On Friday 2nd August over 300 NHS workers, trade unionists and NHS campaigners attended a Defend the NHS Rally outside Bradford City Hall, to coincide with the current strike by over 400 support and ancillary staff at Bradford District Hospital. The workers were on strike against the Hospital Trust’s plan to move them out of NHS employment into a Wholly Owned Subsidiary (WOS) – essentially a move to privatise NHS staff.
The mood was positive and defiant, with a sea of workers wearing UNISON t-shirts, handing out leaflets to the public and bringing them in to hear a range of speakers from UNISON, the Labour Party and the regional trades council. Sadly no front line NHS workers spoke at the rally, and the Labour Party speakers offered little in the way of answers, simply saying that the NHS would be “safe in their hands”, without explaining how they would reverse the privatisation and cuts that we have seen under nine years of austerity; however this did not sully the mood of the workers.
Thousands of pounds had been flooding in towards the strike fund, from unions around the country, with an initial two weeks of industrial action planned (after an earlier walk out for a week). A meeting of UNISON workers is scheduled next Wednesday to discuss the next steps to prevent their jobs being moved out of the NHS. This group of workers have the confidence and support from the people of Bradford to continue their struggle.
Unfortunately Estate Management workers in Unite have not joined the strike, which was initially disappointing to the workers. However this does not appear to have affected their mood and determination greatly, given the hundreds of vehicles honking their support as they passed the picket line. One Unite bus driver, upon seeing the picket line on his route, got a Unite flag before his next route and hung it out of the window as he passed the picket outside Bradford Royal Infirmary, to the cheers of the picket line, in a clear show of solidarity with workers in struggle. Workers were also brought bottles of water, donuts, and other snacks to keep up their energy levels throughout the day.
Workers on the picket line also saw this as a semi-political strike, soon after the “election” of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, and his close relationship with Donald Trump, who wants a piece of the NHS in any post-Brexit trade deal. One of the more popular chants was “No Donald Trump in the NHS”.
The picket will continue, from 7am-2pm on weekends and 6am-2pm during the week throughout the action. Everyone is made to feel welcome, the workers are delighted for the effort people make to show solidarity.
Please send donations to ‘Unison Health’ UNISON Resource Centre, St Mary’s Hospital, Greenhill Road, Leeds LS12 3QE
Donations to the account at Unity, Unison Health Branch
Acc No 49021215 Sort Code 60-83-01
Tel 01274 396383