Taking on privateers
OVER 200 trade unionists met in London last weekend to discuss fighting the government's privatisation plans under PFI and PPP schemes. The conference was called by the Dudley health strikers, and was backed by the national executive of the RMT rail union, the health executive of the public sector UNISON union, and the London regional councils of the ASLEF, FBU, MSF and RMT unions.
Some 41 Dudley strikers, who finished their latest round of strike action against PFI on Monday of this week, came to the conference. Tony Benn MP said, "We need to get across that we are talking about the future of our society as well as the future of our hospitals, schools, tube and fire service. We want to run them for ourselves, for our benefit, and not just to be slaves to some multinational corporation."
RMT assistant general secretary Bob Crow went down a storm when he gave an enthusiastic report from last week's tube strike, and said: "I'm fed up of people who say we have to abide by the law. There is one law we know, and that's don't cross picket lines."
Dave Walton from the national executive of the Fire Brigades Union condemned the Labour government for betraying workers. As well as the Dudley strikers, a group of tube, council and health workers, and other campaigners came along to debate how to fight back. John Robson from the ASLEF-RMT joint trains council spoke of the importance of the union leadership being prepared to break the law.
Activists agreed that they should support the protests against the big business agenda of world leaders in Genoa this July.
- DUDLEY health workers will start another three-week strike against the sell-off of their jobs to the private sector this Friday.
DOMESTIC workers at Little Plumstead Hospital in Norwich have won an improvement in pay and conditions after a 98 percent vote in favour of strike action. They have won concessions from private cleaning contractors ISS. The workers, members of the UNISON union, called off action scheduled for Wednesday after they were offered a 2.8 percent pay rise plus other improvements.
UNISON steward Barry Rodi said, "The mere threat of industrial action has forced management into a compromise. Imagine what we could have got if we'd actually struck."