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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 September 2006

NHS Logistics workers vote to strike against privatisation

UNISON MEMBERS at the NHS Logistics (NHSL) depot in Alfreton, Derbyshire, are delighted with the result of our strike ballot against the sell-off to DHL. In a 65.6% turnout of members across the five NHSL depots (Alfreton, Bury St Edmunds, Maidstone, Normanton and Runcorn) 371 members - 75%, voted for industrial action, with 124 voting no.

Brian Loader, NHSL National Staff Side Secretary, personal capacity

The percentage turnout of members is higher than most Labour MPs received at the last general election.

Alfreton branch chair - Alistair Connolly said: "This is a magnificent result across the depots and clearly shows the feeling of Alfreton members, who are angry at New Labour's decision and now have no other alternative, but to take industrial action".

Industrial action is likely to be taking place on 21 September.

This is only a few weeks away from the take-over by DHL on 1 October. So many members will be seeking more than a one-day strike, to increase publicity against New Labour's policy of NHS privatisation across the country.

In August, UNISON nationally pledged to make sure no member will suffer as a result of taking industrial action and launched a hardship fund.

The South-East and East Midlands UNISON Regions have already made large donations, with many UNISON branches around the country following suit.

Anger

Members are angry with the NHS Business Service Authority, who on behalf of the Department of Health (DOH), issued a 'goodbye' letter to NHSLA staff, dated 5 September. The Authority are saying: "DHL have guaranteed that all the logistics distribution centres will remain open for five years at the very least."

This is totally different to previous statements, which clearly indicate no depot closures at all throughout the contract by DHL. In fact, they said the opposite would happen, with two new depots being opened during the contract. The view is the DOH have allowed DHL to incorporate potential depot closures in the final negotiations, without either UNISON or supportive local MPs being informed

With the result of the ballot, UNISON are also seeking a judicial review on the outsourcing of the contract, on the basis that the contract value has increased five-fold since the original invitation to tender in August 2004. Members will welcome this initiative, but not at the expense of the ballot result for industrial action.

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In The Socialist 14 September 2006:


Socialist Party NHS campaign

United action can win!

NHS Logistics workers vote to strike against privatisation

Our prescription - a socialist NHS!

Opposition forces Trusts to retreat

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