THE NHS is the battleground within which the class struggle in this country is being fought out to the finish. The Tory government plans to use its STPs to break up the NHS, smash up the pieces and flog each fragment to the lowest private bidder.
The 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), drawn up in secret, covering every hospital across the country, are Tory plans to close children’s departments, maternity services, A&Es and entire hospitals. Its big idea is that the elderly should be kept out of hospitals and die at home.
These plans must be defeated, and there is a mass popular movement of millions to do just that, to keep the NHS for the people! Thousands and tens of thousands of local people in towns and cities across the country have turned out onto the streets to defend their local hospital.
However, popular uprisings are not enough. The trade union leaders, while giving verbal support to these struggles, have done absolutely nothing to lead them. The TUC left the junior doctors to fight on their own, and the trade union leaders are now standing by and watching the NHS being destroyed.
This burning issue, the crisis of leadership within the working class will be confronted at the All Trades Union Alliance (ATUA) conference on Saturday February 11 2017, at 11am, Friends Meeting House, 173 Euston Road, central London.
It is at this conference that all of those who are determined to fight to defend the NHS will gather to call a plan of action. This plan of action will NOT just be more protest marches and more demonstrations led by the local communities and supported by the trade unions.
The centre of the action must be that the trade unions must lead the fight! They must fight savage cuts and closures of hospitals with official trade union occupations to keep them open, supported by the masses and mass action through the formation of councils of action in every area.
Trade union leaders who won’t call such actions must be removed and replaced by leaders who will. Trade union occupations, supported by councils of action organising mass actions in the communities, is the way to keep the NHS open and functioning.
They will prepare the way to defeat the Tory NHS wreckers by organising millions for a general strike and by making the TUC call it and lead it, to bring the Tories down and bring in a workers government that will defend the NHS by carrying out socialist policies, such as the nationalisation of the banks and the drug companies.
These will not be the first occupations in the UK. When Tory PM Thatcher was in power, under her health secretary, Virginia Bottomley, the University College Hospital Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Wing was scheduled for closure.
The building was occupied by the staff organised in their unions. They kept the services running and they won their struggle. The ward is open to this day. They showed that it could be done. However, it must be recognised that the capitalist system is in such a huge crisis today, with one great banking crisis behind it, and an even bigger one approaching, that the bosses and the Tories feel that they can no longer keep the NHS going.
They are being driven by their crisis to smash it, along with all of the basic gains that the working class has made since the end of the Second World War. The ruling class cannot ‘afford’ the NHS and the working class cannot and will not live without it.
One of these opposites must go – and it must be bankrupt capitalism! The trade unions have a duty to now step in and take action to defend the NHS. The TUC must reject the STPs and all NHS cuts, closures and privatisations.
The trade unions must take the lead with occupations in all of the areas of the threatened NHS facilities. Councils of Action must be built to mobilise the communities for a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government and socialism.
Come to our ATUA national conference to organise the defence of the NHS, and organise the mass actions required to defend it!