Socialist Worker

Wigan porters push for a strike

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2603

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 hospital workers facing the threat of outsourcing in Lancashire have voted overwhelmingly for strikes.

The Unison union members have voted by 89 percent for industrial action on a turnout of 73 percent.

The union had not called any strike dates as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday afternoon.

Bosses at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust want to transfer 900 porters, cleaners, security staff and others at three hospitals to WWL Solutions Ltd.

While the company is—for the moment—wholly owned by the hospital, the move is “back door privatisation”, a Wigan porter told Socialist Worker.

“The new starters would be on worse terms and conditions than us, they wouldn’t get better pay for weekends and night shifts. They would be getting all that work because it would save the company money.

“Once we’re replaced privatisation would come in—and it wouldn’t just be our department.”

Scaremongering

The workers have defied bosses’ scaremongering tactics, such as claims that outsourcing is necessary for tax reasons.

The porter said, “They have also lied to us, they first said we had to do it because we have a £12 million deficit. Now they have said we’ve got a £8 million profit.”

The porters have shown their determination to resist the attacks—and won the support of trade unionists and local Labour MP Lisa Nandy. The porter said, “I think there will be a lot of people on the picket line if they stick by their words.

“There will be the workforce and a couple of hundred other supporters.”

Unison should now name the day for strikes and every trade unionist should build solidarity for their fight.

  • Ambulance workers in the north west of England have voted for strikes as part of a long?running pay dispute.
    The GMB union members voted by 84 percent for industrial action. They have been waiting for the outcome of a job evaluation for more than 12 years.

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