Demand for national strike action growing over NHS Logistics

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TONIGHT at 10pm the five NHS Logistics distribution centres will be picketed by striking staff fighting to stop the privatisation of the NHS supplier.

They will be supported by even more workers than the first 24-hour strike action last Thursday.

The view that was being encouraged by the union leadership on the picket lines last Thursday was that the 24-hour strike action would make the Labour government stop and think.

However, many of the striking workers and supporters that News Line spoke to were insisting that only national action across the board by all trade unions would halt NHS privatisation.

Workers on the ‘Save the NHS’ demonstration in Nottingham last Saturday echoed that sentiment.

Angry at the prospect of thousands of redundancies that are already well under way, workers told News Line that they were for a general strike and the bigger the better.

The second 24-hour strike begins at 10pm tonight.

Everybody now knows that the first 24-hour stoppage did not get Labour to stop and think even for a minute.

Both leaders of the Labour Party, Blair and Brown, have made it perfectly clear that the privatisation offensive is to carry on regardless of the damage it will do to the NHS.

There is no doubt that there will be an increase in the numbers of supporters on the picket line for the second 24-hour stoppage tonight.

However, this will be seen by Blair and Brown as a token effort, leading up to the handover of the five distribution centres to DHL on October 1st.

There has to be mass action, since it is the only way to defeat privatisation.

Such mass action will have the support of the entire working class.

On the fringes of the Labour Party conference, Dave Prentis the Unison leader said last Sunday, ‘We intend to make the NHS the main issue.’

He added: ‘With 20,000 redundancies now announced or likely over the next year, staff are deeply hurt by the recent comment from the health secretary that this is the “best year ever” for the NHS.’

Prentis urged Labour activists to back UNISON’s motion to the Labour Party conference calling for a stop to the privatisation of NHS Logistics and a re-think on strategy.

He said: ‘There are MPs who will join us on a picket line to save a ward in their constituency. Now they have got to have the guts to stand up and say enough is enough.’

News Line urges workers to give massive support to tonight’s 24-hours NHS Logistics strike, but warns that this will leave just five days to handover day, October 1st.

There is no doubt that this is the time for action.

The ‘NHS Together’ coalition of NHS trade unions and NHS professional organisations such as the BMA and the RCN must fully back the Logistics workers.

After two 24-hour strikes there is only one way that this struggle can be developed.

This is for UNISON, the TUC and the ‘NHS Together’ movement to back the occupation of the five distribution centres to stop them being handed over to DHL, and for that action to be supported by strike action by all trade unions, across the board, with emergency cover being made available where it is thought to be necessary.

There is not the slightest doubt that it will take this kind of action to save the NHS from the privateers.

When the Labour Party conference supports the UNISON motion that the privatisation of NHS Logistics must be stopped, then the government will be truly isolated. There has never been a better time for mass action, that must bring the Blair-Brown government down and bring in a workers government that will expel the privateers from the NHS and carry out socialist policies at home and abroad.