Socialist Worker

LETTERS - Wigan strikers inspire us to fight for the health service

Issue No. 2612

Wigan health workers struck and pushed bosses back - and have inspired other workers

Wigan health workers struck and pushed bosses back - and have inspired other workers (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Our Unison union branch at University College Hospital in London voted to donate £2,000 to the Wigan hospital workers who struck and won against privatisation (Socialist Worker, 4 July).

During the discussion about Wigan, people were nodding along in agreement.

We looked at materials from Unison conference about the difference between being employed by the NHS and an outsourced, wholly-owned subsidiary.

There has also been loads on the BBC and inside the union about the NHS’s 70th birthday, which was last Saturday.

People looked at what was happening in Wigan and think it’s a step too far away from the NHS.

And people have been buoyed by hope that someone will fight and win, and turn the tide on privatisation.

We had ancillary staff around the table at the branch committee meeting who were privatised after our strike in 1999.

They know what a victory it would be to stop outsourcing or bring people back in house.

It has been good to see the union leadership taking it seriously—it’s a fight we need to win.

The fact that Unison general secretary Dave Prentis sent out a circular with the donation details helped.

It went to branch secretaries and they acted on it.

One of our actions from the branch committee was to commit to petitioning around workplaces to let more people know about the Wigan strike.

I also thought it would have been good to get workers down for local workplace meetings

Janet Maiden, Unison union at UCH (personal capacity)


At North Bristol NHS Trust we were very proud of our campaign that stopped management setting up a wholly-owned subsidiary to run the facilities department.

It was the unity of the three unions—Unison, Unite and GMB—that really won the campaign.

They set up meetings that actually involved members and we had a petition to take round to get our colleagues involved.

The GMB, which organised a lot of the people who would be affected, had big meetings for members.

My union, Unite, held a lunchtime meeting.

While we didn’t have many members in facilities, people came because they were very worried about the implications for other services.

Management backed off from their plans, but we know that they will come back for more unless we keep up that force.

I’ve worked in the NHS for 32 years now.

And from when I’ve started I can remember fighting against cuts and privatisation.

It’s brilliant to see people marching for the NHS and people in Wigan fighting from below.

Gwyneth Powell-Davies, Unite union at North Bristol NHS Trust (personal capacity)


Brexit is a bad deal

I am genuinely unsure how to best relate to the Brexit rows.

The European Union isn’t anti-racist and looks after corporations’ interests.

But on the other hand, any actual Brexit plan that is likely to go through will make matters worse for migrants and black people.

It will also free up the corporations to grab more public services.

So surely socialists should oppose Brexit—at least in the form that is going to happen in 2019.

I think the slogan has to be “Stop this Brexit”—with the emphasis on the “this” part. And that means joining with others who are campaigning against Brexit or who want a second referendum.

David Riley, Bristol


Our wings were clipped over Heathrow expansion

Heathrow airport expansion shows that the One Million Climate Jobs Campaign still has a lot of work to do.

Unite union leader Len McCluskey played a major role in getting Labour MPs to vote for the third runway.

Expanding aviation is unlikely to create the jobs promised.

Heathrow employs fewer workers then it did ten years ago as a result of automation.

And investing in low carbon alternatives, such as long-distance night trains is more likely to create jobs.

John Sinha, North London


Beat back the far right

In recent weeks we have seen the far right holding mass demonstrations and rallies in some of our cities and towns, notably Manchester, Leeds and London.

They have been beaten in the past and will be beaten again.

But we have to win the arguments against the divisive policies of the right.

Pauline Wheat-Bowen, Huddersfield


Back to the days of Debs?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez winning the Democratic primary in New York was something very positive from the US for a change (Socialist Worker, 4 July).

From my understanding of socialism in the US, this is on a par with the tradition set by Eugene Debs in the early 20th century

Richard Pickin, On Facebook


A long history of racism

The US and Britain have long been racist.

They were responsible for slaughtering native populations in North America and Australia.

And they grabbed their land and resources too.

Ed Ray, On Twitter


Where were ‘Brit values’?

The intelligence and security committee reports confirmed that British intelligence agencies were active in the torture and kidnap of terrorism suspects after 9/11 (Socialist Worker, 4 July).

Were these those much cited “Western Values” that the “War on Terror” was fighting to defend?

Sasha Simic, East London


Good on left in Mexico

it was very good to read about the victory of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the Mexican presidential election (Socialist Worker, 4 July).

His victory has broken more than 50 years of right wing rule.

Frances Withenshaw, Saffron Walden


Look at the EU’s friends

It’s unsurprising to see Alastair Campbell heading up the campaign to block Brexit.

As Tony Blair’s spin doctor, he helped murder a million Iraqis.

Now the EU is keeping those he didn’t kill out—the refugees.

Julia Ryder, Worcestershire


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