Socialist Worker

Wigan NHS workers take on outsourcing - and the former Labour MP at the heart of it

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2597

There is widespread opposition to outsourcing and privatisation in the NHS

There is widespread opposition to outsourcing and privatisation in the NHS (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Hundreds of low-paid health workers in Wigan are resisting bosses’ attempts to outsource their jobs to a firm run by their former Labour MP.

The Unison union members planned to protest outside the hospital on Wednesday morning—and could move to a formal ballot for industrial action.

Hospital bosses want to transfer 900 jobs and support services to WLL Solutions Ltd, a company currently chaired by Neil Turner.

The firm is wholly owned by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.

But the move opens the door to full-scale privatisation. Unison members last week voted by 82 percent against the outsourcing proposals on a 69 percent turnout. 

Sean Gibson, Unison North West regional organiser, said, “We will be holding meetings across the main hospital sites with a view to a formal ballot for industrial action.

“We are open to meet with management, but they have to be clear that their outsourcing proposal is simply unacceptable to the vast majority of our members.”

Support

There is widespread support for the workers among other hospital workers, trade unionists and Wigan Labour MP Lisa Nandy. 

One Wigan hospital worker, whose service has already been outsourced, spoke to Socialist Worker.

“What is happening in Wigan could be the start of something big right across the country,” he said.

“It shows that workers need to organise and fight back. I will be supporting this fight and I hope we can get the community to support the workers.” 

The scandal of Carillion has exposed the scam of privatisation. Workers must fight to stay wholly in the NHS.

Unison should use the fight at Wigan to launch a national campaign—including strikes—against all forms of NHS privatisation. 

Every trade unionist should build support for the workers. 


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