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LETTERS – ‘We will fight to stay part of the NHS’, says Wigan porter

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Issue 2598
Workers and unions should resist NHS privatisation and outsourcing
Workers and unions should resist NHS privatisation and outsourcing (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Health bosses in Wigan want to outsource 900 of us porters, cleaners and security staff to WWL Solutions Ltd.

They first told us about it last September. Initially they said they’re doing it because the trust is £1 million in debt. At a meeting a week ago the figure was

£7 million—now we’ve had a letter saying it’s £14 million. The money is just going up and up.

They’ve tried to change tactics and said our terms and conditions would be guaranteed for 25 years, not the 12 months they originally said. But if another company takes over that’s not guaranteed.

Bosses David Evans and Andrew Foster will be retiring in a few years’ time. Are they going to be bothered in 25 years’ time about our terms and conditions?

They’ll get their pensions and bugger off. And we know that new starters will be on different terms and conditions if the new company comes in. It will cause low morale, people saying, “He’s on so much” or “He should be doing that”. Everyone is against that.

I get premium pay rates for working on the weekend, but new starters won’t. If they want to run a business, not an NHS service, then they’re not going to give me the weekend shifts.

There’s a lot of anxiety going about—but everyone has come together. I’ve never known a department like this.

There are people in their 50s and 60s who are retiring soon and don’t have to be bothered for themselves, but they are up for fighting this for the young people.

And we’ve had a really good reaction. We had people from North Wales coming up supporting us. A lot of eyes are on us.

We’ve voted against the proposals and said we’re prepared to take industrial action. If we go on strike, the hospital won’t work normally that day.

All NHS work should be taken in-house—we shouldn’t be a separate company.

A hospital porter, Wigan

Chilling report on Prevent in mental health

A new report on the Tories’ “Prevent” strategy made chilling reading on Islamophobia in mental health services.

Published by Warwick University last week, it showed that two in three referrals to Prevent in the NHS come from mental health trusts.

Prevent forces public sector workers to spy on Muslims for signs of “radicalisation”.

But two in three NHS workers said they were not confident to distinguish between someone who had been radicalised and someone who had an interest in Middle Eastern politics.

That’s unsurprising since the very basis of Prevent is Islamophobic and there is no scientific way of predicting who is at risk of radicalisation.

This report follows an NUS survey that showed Muslim students are subject to Islamophobic abuse while being unable to express their views or be themselves because of Prevent.

Prevent does nothing but add to the “othering” of Muslims within British society.

At a time when the public sector is under huge attacks by the government, we need service users and workers standing together to fight its austerity agenda.

And we must not allow them to whip up racism as a way of distracting us from the urgent need to unite.

Nahella Ashraf, Manchester

Victory at Keir Hardie school shows strikes do work

it’s so important that the governing body of Keir Hardie School in Newham, east London, decided not to go ahead with academisation (Socialist Worker, 28 March).

It seems to me that academies are just another right wing scam designed to privatise education and turn schools into exam factories.

The recent scandals of Multi Academy Trusts (Mats), which run groups of academies, having to go cap in hand to the government for bailouts makes that very clear.

Parents and teachers up and down England have been trying to stop their schools being turned into academies.

They’ve held protests and teachers have gone on strike.

But Newham shows that a big campaign—and more than just one day of strikes—can force councils and governors to back down.

Jenny Fullbrook, Otley

Another war by the US is now inevitable

It is more than a little ironic that General HR McMaster’s resignation as Donald Trump’s national security adviser makes war inevitable.

He was replaced last week by John Bolton, who was a member of George W Bush’s administration during the Iraq War. All that remains in doubt is the country that the US is going to attack.

At the moment, Iran seems the most likely target.

But North Korea also remains a definite possibility for an attack. Whereas McMaster was always aware of the dangers that war would involve, Trump can only see the advantages.

A war will show the US’s military might and will—as far as Trump is concerned—intimidate the rest of the world. It will fuel US chauvinism and nationalism.

But, most importantly, it will provide a pretext for Trump to close down the Mueller investigation into his links with Russia and to label any critics as traitors.

This is almost certainly Trump’s dominant motive.

And as for the dead and mutilated in a war, in Trump’s universe—such people are just losers.

John Newsinger, Brighton

NHS offer is a miserly sham

After I tried the NHS pay calculator, it said that I could get a 23 percent pay rise over the next three years (Socialist Worker, 28 March).

The proposed deal would give health workers 6.5 percent over three years.

That’s better than the 1 percent we’ve had for the last ten years. But it’s still below inflation—so it’s still a pay cut.

And you only get big figures like 23 percent because the calculator adds the national pay rise and incremental pay rises that we’d get anyway.

My colleagues were shocked to find out that the new deal links increments to performance.

How are we supposed to pass local targets when the NHS is being deliberately underfunded?

Laura Evans, South London

A lot of my workmates thought that the proposed NHS pay deal was good after they went on the pay calculator.

After I explained to them that the lowest paid would lose unsocial hours pay they were less than impressed.

Keith Jones, Banbury

Let’s fight like the Danish

Wow! Over 10,000 shop stewards in Denmark gathered to discuss going on strike (Socialist Worker, 28 March).

That’s exactly the sort of organisation of union members that we need in Britain if we’re going to take on the greedy bastards here.

James Plywood, Folkestone

Stand up for council homes

Why is London mayor Sadiq Khan backtracking on giving tenants a vote on regeneration schemes (Socialist Worker, 28 March)?

Labour local authorities should be leading the way in fighting the Tories’ attempts to finish off council housing.

Melrose Winstanley, North London

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