Socialist Worker

Bradford battles to defend NHS status

by Lesley McGorrigan and Umit Yildiz
Issue No. 2663

picketing at Bradford Royal Infirmary

picketing at Bradford Royal Infirmary (Pic: Unison Bradford Health Branch)

Porters, domestics and security staff at Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust struck for seven days last week.

They are fighting to stop the transfer of 600 workers to a trust-owned subsidiary company.

The move would open the door to future privatisation and worsening terms of employment.

Up to 175 strikers in the Unison union picketed the hospital every day from 5.30am to 3.30pm.

Altogether some 300 ­workers took part in the strike at Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s hospital.

Picket lines were confident and lively, with music and donated food.

Some pickets had been nervous at the beginning of the strike. But they were transformed within hours by the sense of camaraderie.

They spoke of how ­picketing made them feel in control of their situation.


Since the strike began, management are struggling with cleaning toilets ­themselves and spending huge sums on Rentokil services. Passing vehicles honked their horns in support. A bus driver stopped and talked about how privatisation had wrecked jobs in the local bus service.

Amandeep Singh, Unison convenor at Bradford ­Teaching Hospitals said, “This isn’t about money, this is about losing something that is held very dear by workers here. “They don’t want to lose their NHS status. They are also very worried about backdoor privatisation of the NHS”

He continued, “We have very strong support. We have a mandate for further sustained action if we cannot get the outcome that we are hoping for.”

Urgent talks were due with management this week.

But the strikers were clear that they will be continuing action if they don’t win. Strikes, and the threat of strikes, by Unison members has seen victories over similar issues at other trusts.

These include Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust, Mid-Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust. Further action, backed by the whole union, can win in Bradford too.

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