Picture gallery of demonstration on 16 September 2013 outside Whipps Cross hospital in East London:
Lively demo against cuts at Whipps Cross hospital, photos Paul Mattsson

Click for gallery. Lively demo against cuts at Whipps Cross hospital, photos Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

A stream of nurses, domestics, porters, technicians, doctors, paraded back and forth over the zebra crossing on Whipps Cross road, chanting “Save Whipps Cross”, displaying placards, and winning the support of the rush hour traffic.

This was the gate protest on 16 September called by Waltham Forest Health Unison branch. Speeches were interspersed with chanting and a huge amount of noise in support from passing traffic – especially the ambulances!

Unison branch secretary and Socialist Party member Len Hockey opened the speeches by applauding the Whipps Cross workers who had joined the 200-strong protest, emphasising the central role the workforce has to play in the fight to defend the hospitals across East London.

Len encouraged workers to get up on the platform and speak for themselves, as well as introducing union reps and anti-cuts activists in support.

Labour MP John Cryer pledged his support. Socialist Party member Nancy Taaffe spoke from the local anti-cuts union and called for the hospital’s PFI contract to be cancelled.

She emphasised the central role of the trade unions in fighting the attacks, and appealed to hospital workers to stand for election to the council in 2014 as part of TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition).

Ongoing campaign

This gate protest was the latest step in Unison’s campaign. Four weeks ago 100 people from the community, trade unions in the borough and hospital workers attended a public meeting.

Last week a meeting of 90 staff – Unison, RCN and Unite members – met to pass a vote of no confidence in the NHS Trust management and to take strike action.

An indicative ballot of Unison members has now begun. Workers at the hospital hope the regional leadership of the union will show as much determination to fight as they have themselves.

Saturday will see a demonstration through the borough. Workers have been taking leaflets for the last few weeks to help build this demo, and went away yesterday armed with the last batch, determined to make it as successful as possible.

Paula Mitchell

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 17 September 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.