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Health workers organising to save NHS

Mark Booth reports on the grassroots led Health Workers Network fighting to save the NHS

In response to the attacks by the Tories, healthworkers are organising at the grassroots level. In London the Health Workers Network was set up in February to bring together trade unionists and activists across the health service to fight Lansley’s Bill, and resist the massive cuts being implemented across London.

Health Worker is a cross-union network, uniting workers and specialists across the NHS with those not in any union. It brings together nurses, healthcare assistants, with doctors physiotherapists, dieticians and scientists in a rank and file network dedicated to opposing every cut and to defeating Lansley’s bill.

The network meets fortnightly in London and produces a monthly bulletin with news and reports from across the service, alongside analysis of the government’s plans. The network is still in formation and hasn’t yet developed a programme for fighting the cuts, but it has helped organise several thousands strong marches against the cuts and is bringing together groups of activists at hospitals across London. Workers Power is submitting a statement of principles that we hope will be adopted by the network.

The network has the potential to cut across the sectional interests of the different health unions, and the professionalism of the specialists associations, uniting all those who wish to defend the NHS. If it develops an action programme and takes this into the hospitals and workplaces, fights for the protests, marches and indefinite action needed, then it will be a crucial tool in the fight against the Tory and Lib-Dem attacks.

What Health Worker should fight for
• We are a rank and file network organising workers across unions, across workplaces, with those not in any union, to pressure the union leadership into action, and provide an alternative lead where necessary

• We oppose all cuts and privatisation. We demand the closure of the internal market and the re-nationalisation of all privatised services and facilities, in the NHS and all public services.

• We support industrial action against cuts and privatisation, up to and including indefinite strike action to stop the government’s cuts and privatisation plan

• We call for cross-union anti-cuts committees in every workplace to link up and coordinate our resistance to cuts

• We fight for industrial action to be under the control of the rank and file, through democratically elected strike committees.

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