Socialist Worker

What do we get from the link?

by IAN THOMAS Unison health service group executive (personal capacity)
Issue No. 1916

TWO GROUPS of workers in our union have been forced to go on indefinite strike.

Thousands of nursery nurses in Scotland were forced to take the same step earlier this year.

Over 1,200 NHS logistics workers are facing the threat of privatisation.

Yet our national union leadership is trying to convince us we are gaining concession after concession from the government through our link to the Labour Party.

That is not the feeling among the membership. It’s not the feeling on the ward I work on.

It’s not the feeling in the union branch committee.

It’s not even the feeling of most Labour Party members.

They are deeply sceptical of talk of the unions influencing this government. And no wonder.

We are told we have to be grateful to the government for separating the worst issue from its reorganisation of health service pay and conditions, called Agenda for Change.

But it’s only happened because of our pressure and the fact that New Labour would like to kick the issue into touch until after a general election in 12 months time.

The prospect of an election ought to give us an advantage. But instead it is being used across the union movement to dampen down opposition to the government.

At the same time, of course, groups like civil service workers and firefighters are being attacked.

We should not be leaving them to fight alone. Every union should be taking the fight to the government now.

Even if Labour gets a reduced majority, we know from all Blair’s talk of a “radical” third term that the government will not halt its offensive after the election—far from it.

It will step up the attacks —after the unions have bankrolled it through another election year.

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Article information

Sat 28 Aug 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1916
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