Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/473/2054
Anger at union leaders' timidity
AROUND THE country, health campaigners in 'save our NHS' groups such as PUSH and KONP are furious that there will not be a national demonstration on 3 March organised by the health trade unions. Unfortunately, national union leaders, desperate to protect New Labour in the run-up to local elections, have done all they can to stop a national demonstration.
UNISON leaders in London refused to organise a demo at last week's London UNISON AGM. Len Hockey, UNISON joint branch secretary at Whipps Cross hospital, demanded that London UNISON call a demonstration for 3 March.
Most people there supported him and the meeting refused to accept the regional committee's report because of their inaction in defending London's health service.
Other obstacles have been thrown in the way of organising a central London demonstration. At the London KONP meeting on 5 February, there was agreement that we would all try and win support for a London march. However, the Socialist Workers Party, because of their refusal to support any action other than that laid down by the health trade union leaders, announced they were organising local protests instead.
Unfortunately, local demonstrations are not what we need for 3 March. There have been local protests all around London over recent months. Once it became clear that we would not get a national demonstration, we needed to work together to get a regional demonstration to bring together campaigners around London, raise their confidence and take the campaign to defend London's NHS onto a new level.
However, for those who still want to come to central London there will still be an event, probably starting south of the Thames and going to Euston via a London hospital.
It is important that the union leaders, who will be holding an NHS Together rally in Euston, witness the anger over NHS cuts and the frustration towards them, felt by many campaigners for not organising effective national action.
Campaigning health trade union branches and community campaigns have begun to organise local and regional demonstrations around the country for 3 March. We need to ensure these protests are as big and militant as possible and truly reflect the anger, taking us one step further along the road to getting a national demonstration.
UP TO 1,000 demonstrators marched through Waltham Forest in east London on Saturday 3 February in defence of Whipps Cross University Hospital.
Protesters were determined in their stand against downgrading of the hospital, but also angry at the presence of Tory Ian Duncan-Smith and various Labour MPs and councillors whose parties are responsible for the health cuts, while also pushing through other big cuts in local public services.
215 copies of the socialist were sold and £165 donated to the Socialist Party fighting fund, a recognition of our important role and the support for our ideas.
In The Socialist 7 February 2007:
Civil servants' strike
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party Marxist analysis