Socialist Worker

'Unison: don't sell our conditions for jobs'

by Karen Reissman, Unison health executive (pc)
Issue No. 2229

With health bosses around Britain preparing to implement cuts it is vital that our unions prepare for serious resistance. But it seems that some in the leadership of Unison are ready to do the opposite.

Bosses at a number of NHS trusts in the Manchester area are planning to block workers from rising up the salary scale if they have been off sick, have been disciplined or been unable to complete certain training assessments.

In Norwich and Norfolk the attack is worse. In what could be a pathbreaking attack, bosses there want all new starters to sign contracts that include ending all increment progression, reducing sick and maternity pay to the statutory minimum, and cutting annual leave to 20 days.

Yet senior Unison officials last week suggested that the union’s health executive should agree to exchange pay and conditions for a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.

A majority rejected this dangerous position. However, they put forward a motion to next year’s Unison health conference that union officials may interpret as being in support of their position.

Unless Unison is prepared to show employers that we are prepared to lead effective action, including strikes, to defend our members we can expect many more attacks in the future.

Around 90 Keep Our NHS Public activists in London met last week to discuss the government’s health white paper.

The meeting showed a new determination to confront the cuts. A loud cheer went to a pensioner who told of his experience on the recent student demonstration. He called for those present to show spirit to save the NHS.

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Tue 23 Nov 2010, 18:26 GMT
Issue No. 2229
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