‘There needs to be national action to stop privatisation’

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Part of the 5,000-strong lively demonstration in Nottingham last Saturday demanding national trade union action to defend the NHS
Part of the 5,000-strong lively demonstration in Nottingham last Saturday demanding national trade union action to defend the NHS

THERE should be national action to stop NHS Logistics being handed over to parcel firm DHL in a 10-year contract worth more than £3 billion, Bury St Edmunds UNISON branch secretary Graham Kendall told News Line yesterday.

Speaking on the eve of tonight’s second 24-hour strike by staff at NHS Logistics depots in Bury St Edmunds, Maidstone and other sites in England, he said: ‘Hopefully, we’re expecting everyone to turn out again at ten o’clock tomorrow night when the next strike begins.

‘Our members still feel strong enough, but what we really hope for is to increase the numbers of people turning out to support their colleagues on strike.

‘We’re hoping that support is going to grow. We’re hoping to build the momentum that was begun last week.

‘There needs to be a national action to stop the privatisation of NHS Logistics and hopefully that will involve other unions as well.

‘We’ll have to look into the next steps we take if the government says they are going to go ahead with the privatisation on October 1.’

Yvonne Cleary, UNISON regional official in eastern England, said: ‘We’re hoping to get the same response tomorrow as we got last week, which was solid.

‘We’ve got to get our message across, not just to the government but to the public, that this is about the beginning of the end of the NHS.’

In Kent, Marion Birch, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells UNISON NHS branch official, said: ‘We back the Logistics workers 100 per cent and we’ve made a contribution to their strike fund.’

A UNISON spokesperson told News Line: ‘The strike starts tomorrow evening and goes on for 24 hours.

‘We will be sending a delegation from the Labour conference to the Runcorn depot to show solidarity with the strikers there.

‘We are not convinced their terms and conditions will be protected when they transfer over and we don’t believe the NHS will be best served by a privatised company delivering essential supplies to hospitals and GP surgeries.’

The union’s spokesperson added: ‘We have a motion to the Labour Party conference, which will be debated on Wednesday, when we will be putting our case in the party and asking for support to put an end to more privatisation of the NHS.

‘We will be meeting to discuss what further action will be taken.’

UNISON is also launching an advertising campaign in the national press today against the privatisation of the NHS.

The union is using its general political fund to pay for adverts ‘to make the point that private investors are not the answer for our health service.’

Using a headline: ‘Don’t let private investors tell the NHS how to operate’, the ad shows a fat-cat businessman directing a female NHS surgeon.

‘Bringing in private companies will not cure the NHS,’ the advert states.

‘Nor will getting hospitals to compete with each other. For a healthier option, visit www.unison.org.uk/keepNHSworking.’

UNISON said the adverts were timed to coincide with the Labour Party conference and the strike action at NHS Logistics, to ‘challenge the government’s obsession with the market and the private sector’.