NHS protesters shame privateers
The organisers of the North London Whittington Hospital’s annual oration were forced to allow protesters against privatisation into their talk last week.
Richard Smith, a spokesperson for United Health, was speaking on “The future of the NHS, will it be privatised?” United Health is one of the US’s biggest health corporations. It took over three GP surgeries in Camden in April.
A demonstration organised by Camden Keep Our NHS Public marched into the grounds of the hospital and demanded to be let in.
Campaigners then addressed the lecture, arguing against Richard Smith’s proposition that profit was of central benefit to the health service. Many of the people at the lecture signed the campaign’s petition.
For more information go to » www.keepournhspublic.com
Vote causes train company U-turn
A vote for action by members of the RMT rail workers’ union at First Great Western (FGW) has forced management into a U-turn on its plans to scrap buffet cars on high-speed trains.
Workers voted by almost two-to-one for action over the company’s failure to guarantee that it would stop removing buffet cars or to provide satis-factory assurances over jobs and safe working conditions.
But FGW last week issued a bulletin indicating that a review of its policy “makes a clear recommendation to retain buffet facilities on all our HST services”. The RMT has given the company until Friday of this week to meet the union to confirm its new position.
Disappointing result at BAA
Workers at the BAA airport company have voted to accept the company’s decision to shut their final salary pension scheme to new starters.
The ballot result announced at the end of June is extremely disappointing, the more so because the unions had repulsed a previous attempt to close the scheme by voting for strike action and so compelling the company to back down.
The national officers of the four unions involved have to shoulder the lion’s share of the blame as they moved from opposing an alternative, inferior scheme to boasting that they had negotiated a “world class direct contribution scheme”.
They also agreed to the company’s demand that they take a neutral stance during the ballot, and will no doubt try to blame the membership for the outcome.
Campaigners fight cuts in Lambeth
Trade unionists and community groups protested against Labour-run Lambeth council’s plans to privatise local services on Wednesday of last week.
The Save Our Services in Lambeth group packed the public gallery at Lambeth town hall and quizzed cabinet members responsible for cuts and privatisation.