Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/577/7221
Little debate at Unison health conference
Any Unison members in the NHS who were hoping that this year's health conference would see the start of a fightback against job losses, cuts and privatisation will be hugely disappointed.
Adrian O'Malley, Unison Health service group executive, personal capacity
Motion after motion highlighted the attacks that are taking place on the NHS, particularly in England, by the New Labour government, which as every delegate understood is intent on privatising the NHS bit by bit.
Unfortunately the Unison leadership nationally and in the health sector is tied to the Labour Party and is unwilling to rock the boat and 'risk letting the Tories back in'.
These insane illusions in the Labour government were exposed when the health ministers from the Unionists in Northern Ireland and the Nationalists in Scotland were applauded for saying they would not privatise services. Alan Johnson for the New Labour government was listened to in silence as he offered nothing but more private sector involvement.
There was very little debate at the conference as most of the motions, including the demand to renationalise PFI hospitals, were supported by the service group executive, mainly to stymie controversy rather than lead any serious campaign to achieve steps forward.
Any real fight-back was reserved for the joint Left fringe meeting which heard inspiring reports from the Visteon and Glasgow schools occupations.
Nevertheless, the ten Socialist Party members who were delegates took every opportunity to point out the need for industrial action against New Labour's policies and the need for a political alternative.
Our members spoke over 20 times from the rostrum, sending a clear message to the union leadership that they may try to expel socialists from the union but there are plenty more to take their place!
One of the Unison 4, Glenn Kelly, was unable to address a fringe meeting against the witch-hunt in the union because he was in a third round of union disciplinary hearings! At that fringe meeting, Yunus Bakhsh, a left health activist, told how he had been sacked from his job, then expelled by Unison, with alleged involvement by a BNP supporter, in a story that you just couldn't make up! This makes the current NEC elections vital to the future of the union.
The main debate of the week was whether to withdraw the union from the pay review body and negotiate directly on pay with the government. After a lively debate, this was defeated on a card vote by 243,051 votes to 152,519.
This will prove to be a temporary victory for the right wing. They will be forced by the membership to take action against the low pay awards we will inevitably be given as the government and its lackeys on the pay review bodies force public sector workers to pay for the bosses' crisis.
Despite the downbeat mood of the conference, Socialist Party members sold 62 copies of The Socialist and raised over £800 for the Socialist Party's fighting fund.
In The Socialist 29 April 2009:
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis