Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/455/5563
NHS Logistics: Striking against privatisation
Defend jobs and services
THE FIRST national NHS strike for 18 years will start on 21 September at 10pm. We are fighting the Department of Health's (DOH) decision to privatise the NHS supply chain, handing it over to DHL/Novation.
Brian Loader, NHSL National Staff Side Secretary, personal capacity
The 24-hour strike will be across NHS Logistics depots in Alfreton, Bury St Edmonds, Maidstone, Normanton and Runcorn (which will start at 11pm.) Picket lines will be mounted half an hour before the strike starts.
As stated in last week's socialist, the DOH have confirmed to UNISON there is no guarantee the depots will remain open in the latter part of the 10-year contract. We are also concerned that DHL will be looking for 'efficiencies' during the contract which will also threaten jobs outside the warehouses.
Worryingly, the stewards at Maidstone have also reported that, at a DHL presentation, they were told that terms and conditions may be changed so sickness benefit will not be paid for the first three days.
At Alfreton, UNISON members are organising a good-humoured picket. One member is even planning to turn up dressed as Superman. The local pub has been booked for Friday morning to serve tea and coffee to striking workers and supporters and to allow discussions over the plans for the second national strike day on 26 September. This will also start at 10pm.
The mood of the stewards is buoyant. They realise that we have to fight now. We want to show DHL that we are not to be taken lightly.
DHL have tried to welcome us to their "family" of 80,000 employees. But we pointed out that the NHS employs about 1 million people, a far bigger "family". And we don't want to be hived off from it.
Our action will give an example to other groups of workers in the NHS who are facing similar outsourcing and privatisation. It will show that UNISON members are prepared to fight and oppose continued privatisation.
We've been recruiting new members to the union through this dispute. People see the need for action and the need to make a stand.
On 27 September it is likely that UNISON members from Alfreton, Normanton and Runcorn will go to Manchester to lobby Labour Party conference, when the resolutions on the health service are to be discussed.
UNISON is seeking a judicial review on the basis that the value of the contract is four times higher than it was two years ago, when the bid was first made.
Whatever happens in the court, we will have to continue the struggle and organise further industrial action.
NHSL branch secretaries appreciate the support and donations from other trade union branches - including UNISON Wakefield health, Derby health, Manchester community health, Nottingham city, the Prescription Agency, who also face the possibility of outsourcing, Southampton city and Amicus from the National Blood service.
If it works... privatise it!
NHS Logistics made NHS trusts a £3 million surplus last year. Its staff have won numerous awards for efficiency. Making over 1,200 deliveries a day, it supplies 600 hospitals and NHS trusts with the vast range of items a modern health service needs to provide good-quality health care.
But now the government intends to privatise NHSL, which threatens the staff with job losses and a worsening of terms and conditions.
Courier company DHL have teamed up with a US firm Novation, to take over NHSL. They've got their eyes on the surplus, but for their shareholders, not for NHS trusts.
In The Socialist 21 September 2006:
War and occupation
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Youth and Education
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis