ON Thursday evening hundreds of Enfield residents were led by the North East London Council of Action into Chase Farm hospital to protest at the closure of its Maternity Unit and the plan to close on December 9th its A&E, which treats over 230,000 people.
The Council of Action has so far carried out a daily picket for 466 days against the closure and has won massive support from the borough’s residents who are aghast at the prospect of their hospital closing and having to seek care at Barnet A&E and maternity units via a road system that is often clogged up with traffic for hours on end.
One of the features of the campaign against the closure of this hospital, and the scores of hospitals that are facing closure, is the refusal of the trade union leaders, both those that organise workers at the hospitals and those whose members’ health and safety depend on the hospitals, to give the NHS nothing more than verbal support, and some are not even doing that.
Despite the union leaders’ avowal of 100% support for the NHS, they are in fact opposed to their members at the hospitals under threat, occupying them to keep them open, and opposed to their members taking strike action to stop the hospital closures that threaten their health and safety.
The leaders of Unite and Unison, in particular, are absolutely determined not to fight the government to keep hospitals and A&Es open. They are prepared to stand by and watch the NHS, and the Welfare State along with it, being closed down and destroyed.
Cameron announced in his Lord Mayor’s banquet speech that there will be no return to how it was before the 2008 banking crash, meaning that there is to be a permanent war on the NHS and the Welfare State.
The trade union leaders, who live a privileged life under capitalism, have not the slightest intention of fighting this historic demolition of working class gains because they are part of the bourgeois order, and the working class taking power is a prospect that they are completely opposed to.
They are ready to see all the gains that the previous generations of workers have won through struggle destroyed and smashed.
In practice, they agree with Cameron that there will be no going back to the way things were before the crash and, by their refusal to fight, are telling the working class that they must surrender and make the most of it.
In refusing to defend the NHS they are leaving the struggle up to the communities, and betraying their members’ vital interests.
In the 1970s and 80s the trade unions did organise occupations and did win the battle against cuts and did keep hospitals open!
This is what must be done today!
Members must see to it that leaders who will not defend the NHS and the Welfare State are made to quit and are replaced by leaders prepared to fight.
Meanwhile, local trade union organisations of the FBU, the RMT and Aslef, and Unite and Unison in the NHS, on the buses and throughout the transport system and emergency services, must decide that the NHS has to be defended, since their members’ jobs and lives depend upon it.
The way to stop the closure of hospitals such as Ealing, Charing Cross and Chase Farm is through trade union-organised occupations inside the hospitals, and strike action by all of the unions in the localities whose members’ health depends on these hospitals. If there is no access to a local A&E or Maternity Unit then trade union members have no health and safety at all!
Chase Farm A&E is set to close on December 9th.
Trade union members at the hospital must demand their unions call mass meetings to organise the occupation of the A&E and keep the hospital open.
Local trade unions, whose members’ health and safety depend on Chase Farm A&E being open, must take concerted strike action until the closure is withdrawn.
This is not only the way to save Chase Farm hospital and all other hospitals, it is the way to organise a general strike to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government and socialism.
Come to our News Line Anniversary tomorrow (see ad page one) and join the struggle to defend the NHS and the Welfare State by putting an end to capitalism.