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Peter Hadden

Round one to hospital workers

(November 1995)

From Militant Labour, Issue 234, November–December 1995.
Transcribed and marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

Faced with a successful four-day strike and the threat of an all-out strike, the Trust management who run the Ulster and Ards hospitals have put back their plans to put out 12 hospital services to private tender.

The Trust’s proposals went further with private tendering than any hospital has gone so far. If implemented the result would have been job losses as well as the eventual worsening of employment conditions for the staff who remained. Inevitably patient care would suffer.

The angry response of staff, many with a life time of loyal service to the NHS, was shown by the solid response for the four day strike at the end of September. The Trust chairman and directors were given a flavour of this anger when over 100 members of the main health union, Unison, put them on the spot at the Trust’s annual public meeting, held on the final day of the strike (28 September).

Two weeks later the workers showed their determination to carry on the battle. Two meetings of Unison members in the Ulster Hospital voted unanimously to ballot for all-out strike action if the Trust did not back off.

Faced with the likelihood of an all-out strike, the Trust have referred their decision back and there will be further consultation. Round one of this battle has gone to the workers. By their solidarity and their determined action they have shown how privatisation can be beaten.

But as Unison members in the Ulster Hospital told Militant Labour, this is not the end of the matter. The Trust’s intervention could be merely to delay until Unison drops its guard and then to go ahead. The proposal to ballot for all-out action should therefore remain and should be implemented if and when the Trust makes any concrete move to go ahead with contracting out.

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Last updated: 12 September 2016