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7 February 2018

York socialists head resistance to NHS outsourcing

Nigel Smith

There has been a consistent campaign in York to resist secret plans by the local NHS trust to establish a limited liability company at York Hospital.

This company intends to manage the cooks, cleaners, porters and maintenance staff. Hospital security has already been outsourced. The Socialist Party in York has led the way in the campaign against it.

We initially met with York Defend Our NHS, to discuss strategy, but moved much more quickly into action than they were able to. We also briefed the trades council, who agreed to release a press release expressing their opposition to any such proposal.

One of our members is a shop steward at the hospital and has been leading the campaign inside it. The mood of the staff is solidly opposed to privatisation and the unions have seen significant recruitment since the campaign started.

Without this campaign the hospital staff would still be largely unaware of these proposals. By working together the three main unions - Unison, Unite and GMB - have been able to prepare a joint statement, which they presented to the hospital board, outlining determined resistance to the proposals and referencing disastrous attempts at privatisation at other trusts.

An online petition organised by York Defend Our NHS has so far received 1,700 signatures. The York Socialist Party branch also has a petition of over 1,000 signatures so far.

We are frequently thanked for our work and feel fully supported by people in York. We have also had to double our order of the Socialist and have sold out each edition. This is a tripling of our usual sales.

We have also sought to enable the local Defend Our NHS group to make a fighting plan with us, and we presented our petition along with theirs at the latest hospital board meeting.

Since then the trust has met with representatives from the unions for the first time to 'own up' to their previously clouded intentions.

We will continue to work with any group that shares our objective. No compromise; no limited liability company or outsourcing at York NHS Trust.

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