Socialist Worker

Health workers go all out to stop Tory attack

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2273

Health workers are working flat out to win a thumping yes vote in their ballot.

Their Unison union has launched a national ballot to join the mass strikes on 30 November (see Act now to take on the Tories – vote yes to join mass strikes).

Oxfordshire Unison activist Ian McKendrick told Socialist Worker that his branch ordered 25,000 leaflets days ago—and already over half have been given out.

“We’re organising leafleting of hospital entrances as often as we can,” said Ian. “This morning a group of us were at Oxford’s Warneford and Littlemore hospitals.

“Over 30 people helped ensure the union had a presence at shift changes through the day. Word of mouth means our message will be circulating all around the hospital.”

Ian says the key to mobilising people is being prepared to start small. “In workplaces like mine, where most people are in clinical roles, it is very difficult to stop for a meeting at the same time,” he said.

“Don’t let that put you off. I’ve spoken to section meetings of just six people, but sometimes those ones are absolutely crucial.

“If you give some people the confidence to go out and argue with others, then it was time very well spent. That’s exactly what has been happening in Oxfordshire.”

Ian says Socialist Worker’s pensions factsheet has armed him with arguments that can help win the ballot.

“I talked to my delegation on the coach to the TUC demonstration in Manchester about meetings I’ve spoken at.

“They wanted to know where I got my statistics from, so I showed them the factsheet, and sold quite a few copies.

“Health workers are angry about pensions and so many other issues—such as pay, workload, and cuts to public services.

“The key to tapping the mood of anger is to generalise. This strike isn’t just about pensions, it’s about everything.”

Series

Meanwhile, in Bolton, some 400 health workers packed into a series of union meetings on pensions last week.

According to one Unison union rep, workers who came to the sessions were “absolutely fuming” about the government’s attack. They also had lots of questions about striking.

“Some people asked about what it would take for us to win, while others focused on the need to keep the public and patients on board. But everyone there was committed to winning a yes vote,” she said.

There was a similar feeling at a lunchtime Unison meeting at the John Radcliffe hospital last week.

Around 120 workers came to a short-notice meeting with Unison health leader Karen Jennings to discuss the fight.

For factsheets, ring 020 7819 1170 or contact enquiries@swp.org.uk


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