Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/646/10588

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 November 2010

NHS - workers looking for a fighting lead

A trade union activist in the NHS wrote the letter below to Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe on the response to Con-Dem cuts within the NHS.

AFTER A meeting with my NHS trust management, who are pushing through redundancies, I had a surreal discussion with union full-time officials from Unison, Unite and the BMA.

We discussed if and when the mass of workers in the trust would take action in defence of their jobs. We talked about events in France and in what circumstances workers here would take similar action. The consensus was that it would come - the BMA full-timer even suggested some doctors and consultants would join in.

What struck me is the difference between now and the Thatcher era of the 1980s. Then there was a certain acceptance of Thatcher's position - a homogeneity of opinion amongst what, for want of any other way of describing it, is the professional and managerial class. Today they are not signed up to the cuts but fear for themselves and their future.

They find themselves pushing cuts and redundancies but do so with no enthusiasm, unlike 20 or so years ago when a layer of senior management pushed cuts with enthusiasm and some determination. Clearly now, given the lack of determination of those responsible for these cuts and redundancies, the ability for mass movements to defeat them is inherent.

One union full-timer described his conversation with a national HR (human resources) director in the NHS. This senior manager said he feared for industrial relations in the NHS.

He expected the government to attack the NHS redundancy scheme, forcing a levelling to statutory minimum as well as pushing through changes in the NHS pension scheme.

He could not see the mass of workers accepting this. He said that even British workers would respond like the French and that he and many others would have sympathy for the workers' position.

The full-timer felt this was a genuine view expressed in a candid moment. I think this is of real significance for battles to come.

In my Trust, Unison had about 300 members out of 1,000 staff (there are other unions here). But we recruited 200 in the last two weeks. We had two stewards. Two members who came to a recent lobby agreed to become stewards - doubling our representational base. Ten more people have come forward wanting to become union stewards. That's unprecedented in recent years.

We told senior managers this - they were delighted and willing to release them all to get them trained in the next few weeks. They said they were really pleased we were improving our organisation on the ground. The world really is a strange place at the moment!

Finally, members who came to the TUC lobby of the government before the spending review were all disappointed with the trade union speakers - except for Woodley who they said had some fire in his belly. Clearly ordinary members who have not yet played any active part in the union are looking for militant leadership.


Peter Taaffe replied:

Many thanks for your letter. It is significant that workers are joining the unions because of the prevailing and growing sense of insecurity because of the jobs massacre in the offing.

Equally important is your point about the intermediate layers. I also emphasise this in the article I wrote for The Socialist on the cuts (see www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/10463). As with France, decisive action by the working class and their organisations can attract these intermediate layers.

But the decisive question is, of course, how the unions react and that is connected to the role of the leadership. Even the organically sceptical Unison leadership can be pushed by events but this will take mighty pressure from below.

We were very successful in the demonstrations on 23 October, but Unison participation, at least officially from branches, was striking. The NSSN has played a key role, under our leadership, in pushing the more militant trade unions into action.

Such is the mood from below that this can force the unions - if not the TUC then the more militant left-led unions - into calling a demonstration before Christmas which could receive widespread support from the union movement as a whole.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 11 November 2010:


Socialist Students

9,000 student fees: we won't pay!

No to 9,000 tuition fees: Fight for your future!

Ireland: Largest student protest in a generation


Anti-cuts campaign

Stop the Con-Dems' slave labour scheme

What the capitalist cuts really mean

National Shop Stewards Network: Anti-cuts conference


Socialism 2010

Socialism 2010: An inspirational weekend


Youth

Youth Fight for Jobs and Socialist Students conference

Leeds: Stop the closure of Union Books

Goldsmiths students occupy town hall


Socialist Party editorial

London firefighters' dispute: the fight is not over

Massive anger must be organised into coordinated trade union action


Socialist Party workplace news

London tube strike - picket line reports

BBC staff fight for pensions: picket line reports

Protest at law centre closure

Fight the mail centre cuts


Socialist Party news and analysis

Vendetta continues against Tommy Sheridan, socialist fighter

Angry campaigners discuss Stroud fightback

NHS - workers looking for a fighting lead

Fast news


Socialist Party feature

Attacks on disabled people's rights


International socialist news and analysis

Scotland: potential to build a mass movement against cuts

US elections: Bankruptcy of Democrats leads to spectacular fall


Socialist Party review

Review: Call Mr Robeson: A Life, with Songs


 

Home   |   The Socialist 11 November 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

NHS:

triangleUprising to save the NHS!

triangleNo cuts - hands off King George A&E!

triangleObesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

Peter Taaffe:

triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

triangleHow to help the struggle to change the Labour Party

triangleThe role of the RMT in changing Labour

triangleBuilding workers' struggle and the forces of international socialism

Trade union:

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

Socialist Party:

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangle'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

Cuts:

triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

Unison:

triangleThe fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

Unions:

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Black workers and the British trade unions

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

19/10/17

North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

18/10/17

Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?

18/10/17

Leeds

Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

18/10/17

Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

18/10/17

PCS

Balloting members on the pay cap

18/10/17

Art

'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

18/10/17

Council

Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

18/10/17

South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

18/10/17

NHS

Uprising to save the NHS!

18/10/17

Socialism

Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

18/10/17

East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!

18/10/17

North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

18/10/17

BAE

Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems

18/10/17

Schools

Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

18/10/17

Swansea

Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2