Dudley Group of Hospitals
Nine months on, strikers facing new challenge
THE DUDLEY health strikers heard that the contract to transfer their jobs out of the NHS was signed over the bank holiday weekend.
The private consortium Summit Healthcare has been trying to take over the domestic workers’ jobs for nine months. It was forced to announce delay after delay because of the 600 strikers’ determined action.
But it has always known New Labour backed the privatisation all the way. The consortium now says sections of workers will start to be transferred from 21 May.
The Dudley strikers, members of UNISON, have never wavered in their battle to fight NHS privatisation. Over 100 strikers held a lively mass picket of Russells Hall Hospital on Friday of last week.
But UNISON leaders have not matched the strikers’ commitment to the fight. They refused to mobilise the union’s one million members in a key battle that took on New Labour’s pro-market policies. Mark New, joint UNISON branch secretary for Dudley Group of Hospitals, said members of the strike committee who met on Tuesday were clear who was to blame for the contract being signed. “People on the strike committee pointed the finger at the government and the NHS trust,” he said. “But strikers were also angry at UNISON nationally for not putting their full support behind the dispute.”
The strike committee was due to put a recommendation to the strikers’ mass meeting on Wednesday. It included continuing the strike until 20 May to clarify exactly what the details of the contract are. The strikers are intending to go ahead with a planned local demonstration on 2 June. “We feel we have developed the fight against the Private Finance Initiative both locally and nationally,” says Mark. The Dudley strikers will continue that fight by supporting striker Angela Thompson as their local Socialist Alliance candidate.
Angela said, “Is it any wonder we’re seeking an alternative to New Labour? “A number of us are standing on a Socialist Alliance platform across the city and it’s important to get the word out about what we’re standing for-get privatisation out of our public services.”
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