Southport NHS Mass Sackings

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Southport and Ormskirk UNISON health branch has launched a campaign with other health unions, Amicus, GMB, TGWU, the RCN and RCM against 33 compulsory redundancies at the two northwest England hospitals, with more to follow.

The campaign will kick off with a day of protest outside Southport Hospital on Monday and at Ormskirk Hospital next Friday.

UNISON branch secretary Marie Lloyd told News Line yesterday: ‘We’ve canvassed all the staff for their reaction to the day of protest and it has been tremendous.

‘We’ve got public support and support from other UNISON branches, not just health branches.

‘We’ll be mounting the demonstration outside Southport Hospital on Monday 17th July from 8am to 6pm.

‘Staff will be coming out all through the day.

‘We will be doing the same at Ormskirk Hospital on Friday July 21st.

‘We are trying to stop any further redundancies and get the public behind us in this campaign.

‘This is not the end. Industrial action cannot be ruled out.

‘Our aim is to get the government to halt the privatisation of our NHS.

‘We agreed UNISON will have a National Day of Action at our health conference.

‘But we can’t wait for that. A lot of people think a day of action would mean going on strike and that’s difficult for health workers.

‘We’re hoping that our day of protest will encourage them and show them what can be done.’

Amicus said its members have been angered by the Trust’s announcement last week of 33 compulsory redundancies on top of the current job freeze and voluntary redundancies to address its £15 million deficit.

The Trust has also indicated this is just the beginning and a further 200 jobs will be lost over the next two years.

Amicus is demanding that the decision be reversed and the Trust looks at all other options for achieving financial savings.

Amicus Official, Debbie Brannan, said: ‘The protests are the beginning of our campaign to try and reverse these decisions.

‘Our message to the Trust is clear – we won’t stand for these job cuts.’

Amicus members will gather at the main gates of each hospital between 12 pm and 2.00 pm so that the protest will not affect patients.

Amicus represents NHS scientists, therapists, craft workers and community health staff, laboratory workers, pharmacists, maintenance staff, speech and language therapists, psychologists, dental staff, health visitors, school nurses and mental health nurses.

• S econd news story

BEIRUT GAZA BOMBING CONTINUES

ISRAELI warplanes yesterday bombed Beirut’s international airport in the fourth raid in 24 hours.

The attack came shortly after six aircraft were evacuated to Cyprus, after contacts between Fuad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, and Jeffrey Feltman, the US ambassador to Lebanon.

Five aeroplanes of the national carrier Middle East Airlines and a private aircraft owned by Najib Mikati, the former Lebanese prime minister, left the airport after Siniora was assured that the planes would not be attacked by Israel.

Israel has imposed an air and sea blockade on Lebanon and also hit the main highway between Beirut and Damascus, virtually cutting off its northern neighbour from the outside world.

The Israeli air force has hit many targets in Lebanon, focusing on buildings that it claims hold weapons belonging to Hezbollah and its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nazrallah.

Major general Udi Adam, the chief of Israel’s northern command, has said he does not rule out hitting Nazrallah himself.

Ronnie Bar-On, the Israeli interior minister, said: ‘Nazrallah has issued his own death sentence. I doubt if he would be able to find a life insurance agent these days.’

Meanwhile, Israeli jets bombed the Palestinian foreign ministry in Gaza City causing heavy damage and wounding ten children.

The F-16 strike in the dead of night follows past bombings of the Gaza offices of premier Ismail Haniya and interior minister Siad Siam.

The attack was ordered just one day after 23 Palestinians, including seven children from the same family, were killed in a series of Israeli air strikes on the deadliest day in the Gaza Strip since the assault began three weeks ago.

Ten children, including babies aged four and six months old, who lived in nearby homes badly damaged in the powerful blast, were wounded in the foreign ministry attack, witnesses and doctors at Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital said.