Socialist Worker

Issue No. 1717

Workers need your solidarity for these disputes

Dudley health fight escalates

DUDLEY hospital workers embarked on a ten-day strike this Monday against the privatisation of their jobs.

"We want to get our message across to as many people as possible," said Winifred Whitehouse, one of the 600 strikers.

They are on the front line of the battle to stop private firms taking over whole chunks of the NHS under the government's Private Finance Initiative (PFI). But Tony Blair prefers to listen to giant firms like Building and Property- part of the Summit Healthcare consortium which heads the Dudley PFI scheme. The Dudley strike is now at a crucial stage.

As Steve Beardsmore, West Midlands regional convenor of the workers' UNISON union, told strikers at a rally: "If you win, and I'm absolutely confident you will, you will have kicked in this discredited and rotten PFI not just for yourselves, but for every worker in the whole of the country."

UNISON leaders back the strike and have finally set up a �100,000 strike fund with an extra �20,000 hardship payment. But UNISON leaders must urgently turn verbal support into active solidarity if the strike is to win.

Disgracefully this week the union's health group executive voted down by 17 to 13 a resolution calling on it to establish a national levy. The executive also rejected a call for a national demonstration in support of the Dudley strike.

But some strikers are planning to tour workplaces in the West Midlands area this week to raise support. Such delegation work is absolutely central to building and winning this strike. Strikers are also urging workers who face privatisation to get along to the conference on fighting PFI on Saturday.

Dudley striker Winifred Whitehouse told Socialist Worker, "I visited UNISON council workers in Wolverhampton and Bilston and in Sandwell. Sandwell council workers all voted to support us and they have set up a support group to campaign for Dudley."

Similar support groups in workplaces across the West Midlands would give a huge boost to the Dudley strikers.

Support Dudley action

  • Demonstrate Saturday 7 October. Assemble 10.30am, Dudley Leisure Centre, Wellington Road, Dudley.
  • Followed by Conference on Fighting PFI and Privatisation, 1-3 pm, Castle High School, St James's Road, Dudley.
  • To invite a Dudley speaker to your workplace, union meeting or community group phone 07970 788 873.
  • Rush donations and messages of support to: UNISON Dudley Group of Hospitals, UNISON Offices, Wordsley Hospital, Stourbridge, West Midlands DY8 5QX. Phone/fax 01384 244350.

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Article information

Sat 7 Oct 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1717
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