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Strike ballot at NHS Logistics
THE UNISON national leadership has given the go-ahead for the five branches covering NHS Logistics (NHSL) to organise an industrial action ballot of its 700 members. The ballot is likely to be held over the next few weeks, for action to oppose the privatisation/outsourcing of NHSL to DHL/Novation.
Brian Loader, UNISON national staff side secretary, personal capacity
The five NHSL UNISON branch secretaries will be meeting health minister Andy Burnham on 25 July. They will be showing their members' anger at New Labour's drive to dismantle the NHS to private profiteers.
UNISON have been denied access to all the relevant financial information and forecasts in the health department's (DOH) full business case. So the DOH have been able to present one-sided statements in favour of their preferred bidder DHL.
An example is a recent announcement that DHL will operate a sale and lease-back arrangement for the depots and assets, with the proceeds being pocketed by the DOH. This has created considerable unease because none of this was disclosed at the joint presentation made by the DOH and DHL in March.
Members suspect that sometime during the 10-year contract the depot(s) will close, despite the DOH claiming otherwise. They are also questioning the promises made by the DOH and DHL, that workforce terms and conditions will be protected, with any changes requiring consultation/negotiations with UNISON and staff.
Once the result of the ballot is known, the branches will seek to co-ordinate a day's strike action across all the depots, followed by further rolling action. UNISON south-east health committee has already pledged £5,000 to the strike fund.
Karen Jennings, UNISON head of health recently met around 90 members over two days. She said that branches like the five NHSL branches are in the vanguard of opposition to New Labour's marketisation and privatisation plans. She pledged support and action from UNISON's national leadership.
In The Socialist 27 July 2006:
Invasion of Lebanon
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party campaigns