Sunday, October 08, 2006

Health workers win fight for justice

Congratulations to the strikers at Whipps Cross Hospital in East London who on Friday accepted a settlement in their dispute, which gives them 90% of what they were striking for.

This was a vitally important dispute in which a group of low paid hospital workers took on a vast multinational corporation and compelled the employer to honour commitments entered into by a previous contractor.

This dispute demonstrates that whatever warm words we hear from Government ministers, it takes the courage and determination of rank and file trade unionists to tackle the scourge of the two tier workforce in our privatised public services.

The point of privatisation is to extract profits from our public services at the expense of either users (through higher charges or service reductions) or – more usually – of staff (through cuts in pay and conditions). The more we can enforce parity of pay and conditions between privatised and public sector workers the more we can squeeze the profits of the privateers and send them packing.

Strike action at NHS Logistics may have come too late to prevent their privatisation to DHL – but we have to campaign to bring that service (and all others) back in house. The trade unions need to look to our allies in Parliament for support and stop providing any assistance to our enemies.

The Whipps Cross strikers showed exemplary dedication to their cause and received excellent support from their local union branch and from UNISON officials as well as from other UNISON activists. This is an example of trade unionism at its best and it provides an important lesson that struggle is worthwhile – why not Email your congratulations?

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