Health workers walkout against privatisation
Facilities staff at Wexham Park and Heatherwood hospitals in Berkshire, and at Frimley Park in Surrey (members of Unite, Unison and GMB trade unions) will strike on 18 and 19 November, in an escalation of their campaign to stay in the National Health Service (NHS).
Their employer, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, plans to privatise up to 1,000 NHS cleaners, caterers, porters, security and estates staff to a new wholly-owned subsidiary (WOS) company early next year.
Staff employed directly by the NHS will maintain their existing terms and conditions. However, staff transferred to the WOS will only stay on NHS terms and conditions until 2021, and new staff employed by the WOS will be on different terms and conditions.
The spread of WOS’s is part of a government strategy to introduce more privatisation into the NHS, to drive down pay and conditions and ultimately boost private profit. They have been introduced into many NHS trusts around the country and are planned for many more.
However, strike action and threatened strike action in 2018 by NHS workers in Mid Yorkshire and in Wigan won major victories against privatisation, as did NHS workers at Bradford teaching hospitals earlier this year.
While all trade union organisations and members must rally to the NHS workers we must also involve the wider community.
There is a history in the area of fighting to defend the NHS including an epic campaign to save Heatherwood Hospital from closure, which was won following a 25,000 strong petition, marches, demonstrations led by the Save Heatherwood Hospital Campaign.
Already Bracknell Unite branch, Bracknell National Pensioners Convention, Bracknell Defend Our Community Services and Save Heatherwood Hospital Campaign have expressed solidarity with the NHS staff and will be joining strikers on the picket lines.