Union members lobby Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust to drop transfer of staff outside the NHS

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Lobby of Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust board meeting 14/6/18 – rally being addressed by Socialist Party member and Unison branch secretary Adrian O’Malley – photo Iain Dalton

Mid Yorkshire Unison members and public supporters lobbied Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust board meeting held on 14th June. Following a 97.4% vote for strike action on a 58% turnout, a strike will proceed if the Trust does not back down from it’s plan to transfer estates & facilities workers out of the NHS.

Mick Griffiths, Wakefield & Pontefract Socialist Party
Demonstrators were invited inside the Trust headquarters to address the board.
Some of the board members seemed surprised that staff strongly supported striking against back door privatisation. Despite assurances that staffs views would be seriously considered the board is using ‘commercial confidentiality’ as an excuse to make decisions in secret.

Union members are determined to resist being removed from the NHS. The strike will follow if the Trust does not drop this ‘proposal’.

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Strike ballot message to Trust board: “We’re 100% NHS!”

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Health workers and supporters protest against ‘Wholly-owned subsidiaries’ across West Yorkshire – photo courtesy of Leeds Keep Our NHS Public

Four Yorkshire branches of health union Unison are balloting simultaneously for strikes against plans to transfer estates and facilities workers into separate companies – owned by NHS trusts, but outside the NHS.

Adrian O’Malley, secretary, Unison Mid Yorkshire health branch (personal capacity)

Calderdale and Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, and Mid Yorkshire plan coordinated strikes across West Yorkshire if the trusts do not back down.

Mid Yorkshire Unison has voted 97.4% in favour of striking on a 57.8% turnout – smashing the Tories’ undemocratic anti-strike ballot thresholds! “The message to the trust board cannot be clearer – we are 100% NHS!”

Up and down England, NHS workers are organising against similar plans. The companies are called ‘special purpose vehicles’ or ‘wholly owned subsidiaries’. Trusts use them to avoid paying VAT and employ staff outside nationally agreed terms and conditions.

Unison members struck for 48 hours at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust on 23 May against transfer into a company called WWL Solutions. Hundreds attended the picket lines outside the hospitals, determined to fight to remain in the NHS.

NHS bosses thought they could move the staff over into new companies under ‘Tupe’ transfer law without a fight. They have been taken by surprise by workers’ determination to retain NHS employment.

Mass meetings, petitions, lobbies and indicative ballots have been held across the country. They have attracted support from other health workers and community groups, who rightly see this as yet another step towards the privatisation of the NHS.

The struggle is showing that low-paid workers are prepared to fight for their terms and conditions and their status as NHS workers. The lesson from Yorkshire is that we are stronger when we organise together and fight together.

As the Yorkshire NHS staff are saying: “We are 100% NHS and will fight to remain so!”

 

March to defend the NHS on it’s 70th birthday

Saturday 30th June, London

Transport is being organised by Leeds TUC, including a Wakefield pick-up —visit their website  for info,  leedstuc.wordpress.com or via ‘Leeds TUC’ on facebook

 

 

Protesting in support of a living wage for cinema staff

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Protesting for a living wage for cinema staff – photo Yorkshire & the Humber TUC

On the weekend of the release of the new Star Wars film, protests across Yorkshire took place in solidarity with striking cinema workers in the Picturehouse chain, who are currently engaged in a two-year long dispute to win a living wage.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

The Picturehouse workers, members of BECTU, starting from the Ritzy cinema in London, have been taking action on a series of issues including union recognition and payment of the London Living Wage. Picturehouse had agreed to their demands, but since reneged on that pledge.

Socialist Party members took part in the protests outside the Wakefield Cineworld site and outside the White Rose Centre where the new Leeds Cineworld is based. A little over a dozen local trade unionists supported both events and received strong public support for the campaign.

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

Local residents and ex-mining families were outraged when news came through that Dewsbury Conservative Association was intending to have their annual dinner at the National Coal Mining Museum at the former Caphouse colliery in Overton near Wakefield.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

It was planned for 10 March, just days after the anniversary of the end of the 1984-5 miners’ strike. Given the role of the Tory party under Thatcher in running down the mines and forcing the 1984-85 dispute in order to break the power of the miners – then the most combative and best organised union – many local people saw this as an insult to the whole point of a museum commemorating the industry.

But also, the last deep coal mine in Britain at Kellingley on the other side of Wakefield, closed by the Tory-led coalition, is a more recent reminder of the contempt the Tories hold the industry in. They are prepared to bring coal in from places such as China to fuel local power stations.

In a matter of days almost 2,000 people joined a Facebook group set up to protest the event and e-mail and ring the museum demanding they withdraw the event.

At first museum management put up a defiant statement that they would be going ahead as they had to be ‘politically neutral’! But just a day later they were forced to cancel the event after the catering company withdrew.

This is a victory for local working class communities and groups such as the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign which had planned to picket the dinner if it went ahead.

But it also raises questions around why the museum management thought accepting the booking was a good idea.

DVSA pickets strike against attacks on terms and conditions

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PCS pickets at the Wakefield Driving Test Centre near Ossett- photo Iain Dalton

PCS members at the Wakefield Driving Test Centre began two days of strike action on Monday 4th December against attacks on their terms and conditions of work as part of a national dispute.

Iain Dalton, West Yorkshire Socialist Party organiser

Whilst much of the media coverage has focussed on the strike being on the first day of the new driving test, which part of the dispute covers some issues with it, most of the pickets anger was focussed around the ‘flexible’ working arrangements management are attempting to impose on them.

This includes being able to deploy Ops staff to anywhere they choose without notice, but on top of this that the time taken by staff to travel to these deployments is to be done on their own time! This also means that staff travelling to such deployments wouldn’t be covered by the Civil Service Injury Benefits Scheme.

There are other issues such as around test schedules facing staff, and also including removal of premium payments for working voluntarily beyond their contracted Monday-Friday hours, similar to attacks taking place in the retail and other sectors as well.

Despite this being the first strike for some picketers, they were well equipped with a gazebo and bacon butties and hot drinks and pickets were bouyed by the news that there were no tests booked in at the site on Monday – DVSA offering for the first time in an industrial dispute to allow those booked in to cancel or re-arrange for another day.

Mary Creagh should resign not remain

Hundreds of signatures have been collected by Wakefield Socialist Party and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition members calling for the resignation of Wakefield’s Labour MP Mary Creagh.
Mick Griffiths, Wakefield and Pontefract Socialist Party

She recently voted against triggering Article 50 to leave the EU. With a 66% vote to leave in Wakefield, she voted against the wishes of a clear majority of her constituents.

In just one week alone hundreds have signed our petition calling for her immediate resignation.

Throughout Europe workers have suffered cuts and austerity while banks have been bailed out. We intend to lobby our MP in the near future once we have amassed thousands more signatures in support.

Meanwhile, we have organised a public meeting to discuss a socialist Brexit programme on Thursday 9 March at 7.30pm at Black Rock, Wakefield.

Arriva Drivers Strike across West Yorkshire

Unite members picketing outside the Castleford depot - photo Iain Dalton

Unite members picketing outside the Castleford depot – photo Iain Dalton

Socialist Party members visited Unite picket lines at Wakefield, Castleford and Selby on Monday morning as workers for Arriva took strike action.

Not a single bus moved at Arriva’s Castleford depot as Unite members took part in a strike across the service in West Yorkshire. The 24-hour strike was taking place on both the issue of pay and driving hours, with Unite seeking a 20p an hour pay increase and a reduction in number of trips between breaks. A couple of young drivers talked of how they had to work for years before coming off the training rate. They also spoke of huge pressures on drivers over sick days, with many working while ill leading to more drivers coming down with illness and needing to take days off. The mood on the picket line was upbeat and determined. Yet despite the shutdown in the service, several workers felt they would need further action to force Arriva to meet their demands.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party