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Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis
Safeguarding the Future of the Health Service:
Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign petition No to Downgrading of South Tyneside Hospital to be presented to Parliament
Manchester Bus Drivers Declare Victory over Fire and Rehire
Widespread support for the Palestinian Resistance has continued on the streets across the world. Photo: London
Widespread support for the Palestinian Resistance has continued on the streets across the world, including Britain. The many hundreds of thousands of people participating also condemned the crimes committed by the state of Israel, which amount to a programme of genocide against the Palestinian people.
Meanwhile the British government, along with the western imperialist backers of Israeli Zionism, has shamefully refused to take a stand and hold the state of Israel accountable for its crimes and its violations of international law. In fact, on May 25, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab went to Israel and met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Of course, it cost the Foreign Secretary nothing to say that he welcomed the ceasefire, but he spoke in the official British government statement of a "cycle of violence", which is meant to cover over who is the perpetrator of aggression, with whom justice resides, and who should be condemned.
In fact, it is reported that Netanyahu told Raab: "Thank you and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for the staunch, unwavering support of our right to self-defence during the recent operation. It's much appreciated," and that Raab responded: "You can always count on us." This is not done in the name of the British people. The people are not the "us" on whom the Israeli state can count. The actions in support of the Palestinian Resistance to expulsion and annexation, a resistance which has heroically never died and cannot be extinguished, speak otherwise.
In the face of its collective punishment of the Palestinians it has trapped inside Gaza, Israel is asserting that it has a right to defend itself. It is shameful that the British government should agree that this is a "right to self-defence" when the Palestinian people are heroically resisting Israel's crimes. These crimes include the annexation of ever more of Palestinian land as part of Israel's policy of ethnic cleansing. Neither was the onslaught against Gaza that killed some 250 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, an act of "self-defence".
It is the Palestinian people who have every right, as the massive worldwide protests are making clear, to resist such heinous crimes and the occupation itself. It is a right that they are exercising, not only for themselves and future generations, but for all humanity.
Glory to the Palestinian Resistance!
Part of the Resist G7 Day of Action for
Saturday, June 12, 1pm, Downing Street
Actions in solidarity with the Palestinian Resistance
Palestinians protest against Israeli colonisation and attacks on Gaza near Beit El
settlement outside the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 18. Ibrahim Attaia APA images
Palestinians mourn during Moussa Hassouna's funeral in Lydd, a Palestinian city in Israel, on May 11.
Hassouna was shot by a Jewish vigilante during protests and unrest the previous evening. Oren Ziv ActiveStills
Palestinians from the north of Israel walk along Road 443 in the West Bank after Israeli police blocked their
buses on their way to pray at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque in the last days of Ramadan, May 8. Oren Ziv ActiveStills
Palestinians in the village of Zif, near Hebron, are evicted as occupation forces demolish their homes on May 31. Israel retains
full control over planning and construction in some 60% of the West Bank designated as "Area C". Mosab Shawer APA images
The people of South Tyneside are taking their fight to Westminster to save their vital hospital services. On Wednesday, June 9, a deputation of 17 people from South Tyneside and Sunderland are travelling to London to hand in to Parliament the petition signed by 44,000 in the region against the downgrading and privatisation of hospital services.
Those in power are using the present crisis to further downgrade and privatise the NHS. In South Tyneside, it is planned to downgrade Children's A&E from a consultant-led service by August 2021. This is alongside existing plans to downgrade A&E that was outlined in 2019 by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Children and adults will be put at further risk. The South Tyneside and Sunderland Foundation Trust has already announced prior to any consultation that from next year those requiring any emergency surgery will all have to travel to Sunderland. Next year the Trust also has plans to move all other acute services away from South Tyneside, including coronary care, ITU and other vital acute services. How good is a "wonderful" Surgery Centre if the 150,000-plus people of South Tyneside cannot access vital emergency services locally? The A&E will be downgraded to an "Urgent Care Centre" and privatised. The CCG has already indicated that the contract will go to Vocare, a subsidiary of Totally PLC.
Roger Nettleship, Chair of the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign, said: "The petition was launched in 2016 over the concerns to downgrade our hospital through what was claimed as a 'path to excellence' which has already led to the loss of full maternity services, 24-hour Children's A&E and hospital stroke rehabilitation services. These closures of our vital services are going to continue in this government-driven programme of cuts and privatisation of our health services. As the petition shows, these closures have not been agreed by the people of South Tyneside or Sunderland, and they are not in our name. Health care is a right in a modern society and it is the people of South Tyneside who should decide on the services that our hospital provides and they need access to vital coronary care, ITU and other acute services and a trauma A&E here in our community."
Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields, said: "I am pleased to be welcoming the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign to Westminster and am honoured to be able to hand in their petition signed by tens of thousands of supporters. For a number of years now I have seen the hospital where I was born slowly stripped of vital services, one after another. Like many of my constituents and the wider community, I have supported and fought alongside the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign to oppose these cuts and the further downgrading of my local hospital. The last year has shown that our NHS is needed more than ever. However, in the hands of the Tories its very future is uncertain. The government must step in and show they are serious about protecting the NHS and listen to my constituents and stop more cuts to South Tyneside Hospital and return the services we have already lost."
Kate Osborne, MP for Jarrow, said: "Since 2010, our NHS services have been starved of funds by the biggest financial squeeze in NHS history by this Conservative Government. This simply cannot be allowed to continue.
"In South Tyneside, the downgrading of our local hospital services is well underway following the loss of services such as stroke, consultant-led maternity, 24/7 paediatrics and our Special Care Baby Unit. Later this year there are plans to downgrade our children's A&E from a consultant-led service alongside existing plans to downgrade our A&E, resulting in patients having to travel to Sunderland for all emergency surgery. This simply cannot be allowed to happen, and I will always stand up and fight for our NHS's future. If we stand by and let this continue, then our hospital, along with many more across the country, will become another casualty of this Tory Government's relentless drive towards full privatisation of our NHS. I can't speak highly enough of the work that is led by Roger Nettleship, Gemma Taylor, and all of the campaigners involved with the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign, and I look forward to welcoming their delegation to Westminster to offer my whole-hearted support."
The petition, No to Downgrading of South Tyneside Hospital, will be formally handed over to Emma Lewell-Buck MP on June 9 at 1pm (train delays permitting) on Parliament Green prior to its presentation in Parliament. MP for Jarrow Kate Osborne will also welcome the delegation to Westminster.
Details of the online petition can be accessed here: http://www.savesouthtynesidehospital.org/petition/
(Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign Press Statement, June 3, 2021)
Striking bus drivers in Manchester voted to accept a negotiated deal on May 17, ending their 85-day strike, the longest in the history of their union, Unite.
The fact that employers Go North West were forced to accept the condition that they will never use fire and rehire in any form makes this a significant victory for the drivers, and of importance for all workers.
"This is a tremendous victory by Unite's members at Go North West who, through their dedication, solidarity and commitment, have defeated the attempt to fire and rehire them," said Unite general secretary Len McCluskey. "I pay tribute to them, sustaining a strike during the challenge of lockdown, and thank this incredible community for their brilliant support through these long weeks which definitely helped keep heads held high."
Over 400 drivers began all-out, continuous strike action on February 28, standing their ground against and finally overcoming a campaign of intimidation on the one hand and disinformation on the other.
The belligerent stand of the company was to refuse to accommodate the interests and demands of its workers to any degree, and sought simply to impose its dictate.
Working time was to increase by what Unite calculated as some 130 hours over the course of a year. The amount of additional unpaid work equated to £2,500 per year per driver. Furthermore, existing sick pay policy, being revised, meant a 67% cut in sick pay for workers with over five years' service.
To achieve this blatant violation of the claims of its workers, the employer attempted to tear up long-agreed contracts of employment under the increasingly prevalent method of "fire and rehire".
Imposing "fire and rehire" is part and parcel of the anti-social offensive, where a general disequilibrium exists in the social relation between those who work and those who employ them, the owners and controllers of business and the economy as a whole.
This victory highlights and opens the way towards appreciating the need for a new coherence and arrangements amongst the people, the socialised economy and the state. Workers must be able to maintain their current collective bargaining arrangements. What is required is for working people to constitute a new kind of authority where they speak in their own name and are empowered to restrict the rights of the monopolies, allowing them to set the terms in establishing an equilibrium in their favour and in favour of society. To achieve this requires strengthening the workers' independent outlook and organisation, as part of building their resistance.
Workers' Weekly wholeheartedly congratulates the Manchester bus drivers on their important victory!
For previous coverage and analysis, see:
"Go Ahead Spy on Striking Manchester Bus Drivers", Workers' Weekly, March 6, 2021 http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-21/ww21-09/ww21-09-03.htm
"Bus Drivers' Strike and Actions Continue", Workers' Weekly, April 17, 2021 http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-21/ww21-13/ww21-13-02.htm
Further Struggles in the Fight against Fire and Rehire
Counterfire reports that members of GMB at the XPO Logistics depot in Bellshill are balloting for industrial action over plans to cut 47 team managers from a key bargaining group, which is being seen as a step towards implementing fire and rehire. The depot services 54 Scottish Morrisons supermarkets.
Meanwhile, engineers at Weetabix' Kettering and Corby factories have voted for strike action over fire and rehire, reports Union News, after the firm issued the engineers with new contracts and work patterns, which will result in major cuts in shift allowances. There will also be a move to require more day working than shift working, further contributing to the cut in pay. Some engineers are said be facing a loss of up to £5,000 per year. The Unite members will take part in a series of one day strikes during June, July and August.
Union News also reports that Unite members working for Jacobs Douwe Egberts have begun striking over fire and rehire. New contracts being imposed by the company could mean some workers lose up to £12,000 annually. 291 workers at the firm's Banbury site who refused to sign the new contracts were subsequently dismissed. Workers have so far staged one 72-hour and two 24-hour strikes. A continuous overtime ban has also been in place since May 1.
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