By Chris Cornell / HealthKent & CanterburyWelfare / 0 Comments

Estates staff at three Kent hospitals have this week gone on strike over this month over plans to transfer them to a wholly owned subsidiary to avoid paying tax. Unite, the country’s largest union, announced the action which affects the local Kent & Canterbury last month and our activists have been showing their solidarity by joining the pickets in Canterbury and Margate.

Unite balloted its more than 50 estates’ members employed by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust and they voted by 85 per cent for strike action over plans to transfer them to a wholly owned subsidiary called 2together Support Solutions.

The Labour Party shares Unite’s concerns that the creation of wholly owned subsidiaries could lead to job losses and salami slicing of service provision. Unite regional officer Michael Cott said: “We are strongly against the formation of these entities which, we believe, could lead to a Pandora’s Box of Carillion-type meltdowns – with the adverse knock-on effects on patient services and jobs.

“They have a strong desire to remain employed by the trust and not to be employed by the 2together Support Solutions subsidiary which has been set up with the purpose to avoid tax. Our members in Kent fear that such a move will create a two-tier workforce with new staff on inferior conditions and this, in turn, will increase the problems of recruiting and retaining new staff.”

Rory Heap, Chair of Kent Unite Community and an activist in our Whitstable branch said of the protest, “The East Kent health trust has refused to negotiate on this issue. This is a real threat to a publicly owned NHS and its encouraging to see support on our picket lines this week.”

Recently, two trusts – University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, and the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust – backed down on their plans for a wholly owned subsidiary, following pressure from health unions.

By Chris Cornell / Health / 0 Comments

Around 1,000 people turned up at Labour Party street stalls in Whitstable and Canterbury last Saturday to sign cards wishing a very Happy 70th Birthday to the NHS.

Paul Todd, a local Labour campaigner who came up with the idea for the cards said: “The NHS is the Labour party’s greatest achievement, which for 70 years has helped improve the lives of working people. It’s always been there in our times of need so it’s right to for us to show our support when it needs us most.”

Members of the public signing the cards agreed, with hundreds of comments and messages of support including:
“Keep up the good work!! We’re rooting for you.”
“Thanks for everything you do! Hang in there.
“We love you! We will fight for you, NHS.”
“Keep up the good work…the Labour Party will make sure of that!”
“Thank you all you hard-working people that make the NHS.”
and “Long live the NHS! “Free at the point of need” – Nye Bevan’s Ghost”

Callum Adams, one of the event organisers, said one of the cards would be delivered to the Kent & Canterbury Hospital and the Whitstable & Tankerton Hospital at 11am. Member’s baked birthday cakes to show their support for NHS staff.

Whilst it was right to celebrate, Mr Todd added: “However, the NHS needs more than cards and cake if it’s to last another 70 years and you can be sure that Canterbury and Whitstable Labour will be right at the front to protect our NHS from Tory privatisation and mismanagement.”