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Bradford: All-out action to defeat backdoor NHS privatisation
Iain Dalton, Yorkshire Socialist Party
The escalation of the strike at Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust to all-out strike action at the end of August marks a significant intensification by Unison union members in estates and facilities at the trust.
They are fighting to defeat the proposed transfer of their jobs out of the NHS and into a 'wholly owned subsidiary' - a private company owned by the trust.
The Socialist Party continues to fully support their action after a fortnight of strikes which has demonstrated their determination.
Last year, when such bodies were first mooted in West Yorkshire, it was the successful ballot at Mid Yorkshire, with determination to take strike action, that forced those proposals back.
The determination of the strikers must now be matched by drawing the might of the wider labour movement into this battle, including, like last year, linking up with others facing this and other attacks in this era of austerity.
A rally on 2 August was a start in this work, and the donations of food and drink from the public, show there is a wider well of support that must be tapped into to force the trust back. This escalation comes just over a month ahead of the trust's proposed implementation of this transfer on 1 October.
Given this impending deadline, the Socialist Party puts forward the following suggestions to help achieve a victory for the strikes.
The strike has brought new members into Unison alongside creating new activists. As well as developing new union reps, they should be drawn into running the strike through electing a strike committee to organise the strike.
Unison should organise strikers to speak at union branches across Yorkshire and nationally to appeal for support and donations to the strike fund.
The hospital trust is due to hold its next public meeting on 12 September - a mass public lobby of this meeting would show the depth of opposition to the board plans.
Unison should mobilise its membership and the wider trade union movement, particularly in the NHS, to a national demonstration in Bradford in support of the strike on the first or second Saturday of all out strike action.
Local councillors spoke at the rally on 2 August - they should ensure that no obstacles are put in the way of any further public rallies and collections for the strike fund.
Jeremy Corbyn sent a message of support to the rally - he should pledge to scrap any wholly owned subsidiaries that have been established and return all staff to NHS employee status.
A general election could happen any time and a policy of reversing NHS privatisation and funding cuts would make a huge difference if a Corbyn-led government was elected - and to put pressure on the trust today.
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