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Whipps Cross workers prepare for fight against jobs and pay cuts
A Whipps Cross hospital worker
On 1 February a lunchtime union meeting of over 80 domestic and portering day workers at Whipps Cross hospital, east London heard about the branch's plans to fight the threatened pay and hours cuts.
The consultation document issued by the contractor, Initial, says that 41 jobs are affected. The plans, described by Initial as "Phase One" and in the document as the "initial steps", are only the start.
The company is threatening the pay and hours of every domestic, porter and switchboard worker in Whipps Cross in other potential 'phases'.
The meeting launched a petition aiming for 1,000 signatures which members were urged to get filled in. A survey asking members to vote yes to be balloted for strike action has been posted to members.
Strike action to stop the cuts was overwhelmingly supported by a show of hands at the meeting.
Whipps Cross: A decisive fight
The Socialist issue 750 report on the 1997-2006 struggle of workers at Whipps Cross to defend the NHS, and the wages and conditions of workers reveals a model of how to organise.
The drawing together of traditionally organised workers and workers entirely new to organised labour, and the method of highlighting the shared interests of all workers, irrespective of their background or level of skill, is a model which should be absorbed by all socialist activists.
The pushing back of the sustained onslaught by bosses who used every device in the book, with the assistance of right-wing trade union bureaucrats, could only be achieved by forging the maximum solidarity of the work force.
This stands as a magnificent demonstration to other sections of NHS workers who are facing death by a thousand cuts.
Whipps Cross again emphasises another lesson which is: that while the power remains with the capitalist class any victory is temporary.
They will bide their time and ruthlessly test out the weaknesses of the workers, usually in conjunction with narrow-minded trade union bureaucrats, and then move to claw back any concessions they were forced to make.
Nevertheless, the wonderful example of Whipps Cross should be stored in the collective memory of the working class and applied continuously, a role very effectively played by the Socialist Party.
Read the article:Privatisation bleeding the NHS dry
In The Socialist 6 February 2013:
Socialist Party NHS campaigning
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party reviews and comments
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis