Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/447/5319
Stop NHS Logistics sell-off
A RALLY on 1 July in Maidstone, Kent, protested at the proposed sell-off of the five NHS Logistics depots nationwide. NHS Logistics, an award-winning, not-for-profit service supplies and delivers all the essentials to NHS hospitals.
Jackie Berry, Kent Socialist Party
Yet the government wants to sell it off to private company DHL, with Novation, who are under investigation for scamming the US health care system, as a subcontractor.
"The mood at the depot is that it's gone through now. DHL have taken over," says Dean Lane, UNISON assistant branch secretary at NHS Logistics in Maidstone.
But the UNISON membership are still pushing for a ballot for industrial action.
Paul Harper, UNISON branch secretary at the depot says "We've no choice but to ballot. UNISON's national General Secretary Dave Prentis says he supports strike action, but we've been pushing for a ballot for about six months now, and he keeps stalling for time."
For workers, the takeover will mean worse terms, possible downgrading of pay, job cuts and loss of pensions.
Also, 700 workers at NHS Logistics are UNISON members. DHL/Novation plan to replace UNISON with a new 'management friendly union.'
"During the London bombings, staff at the Maidstone depot dropped everything else to transfer supplies to hospitals in London... you wouldn't get that if it went private, management just wouldn't allow it," says Paul Harper. The Maidstone depot received awards for this heroism, along with consistent good work.
So why does the government want to sell off this part of the NHS? If New Labour can sell off NHS Logistics, it makes it a lot easier to privatise other parts of the NHS, until there is none left.
"We'll pay more," says Dean Lane. "If or when it all goes private, we'll all be paying for health insurance, but will taxes go down? No they won't! That's not even the point, this is our NHS!"
"What's needed now is for UNISON to hold a national demonstration," says Paul Harper.
We need a national demonstration to defend the NHS against all the attacks, cuts, closures and sell-offs.
In The Socialist 6 July 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Campaign for a New Workers Party
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party workplace news