Shopworkers came out firmly against the government’s NHS privatisation agenda yesterday, declaring that the country only had one year to save it.
Passions ran high in the debate with delegates heaping praise on NHS staff and condemning the Tory-led government handing out contracts to private healthcare companies.
Moving the successful motion which accused the government of playing “Russian roulette with peoples’ lives,” Morrison’s north delegate Michael Green called on members to put pressure on their MPs to demand services — and proper staff wages — are funded.
Talking about NHS staff, delegate Kevin Dolan said: “We will never be able to pay back what we get out of them.”
Sainsbury’s Yorkshire delegate Stephen Lord highlighted how privatisation was affecting the region.
He said: “Blackpool patient transport is run by Arriva. Our NHS is being sold off bit by bit. The government is, by stealth, privatising our NHS.”
He pointed out to conference that 63 Tory MPs — including Prime Minister David Cameron — had financial links with healthcare companies.
He added: “We must return a Labour government next year. We only have 12 months to save our NHS.”
Part of the motion read: “People are going to die. This must be given the utmost consideration and the government must rectify the damage already inflicted on our NHS service.”
Speaking on behalf of the union's executive committee, Usdaw general secretary John Hannett urged his members to be vigilant over the NHS privatisation agenda.
He said: “The government has gained new powers, powers to remove meaningful consultation over closures.
“We must make sure we do not allow our NHS workers to be demonised.”
Mr Hannett stressed the importance of having a political perspective in the union beyond the workplace. He said: “Over many years, we have a proud history of opposing privatisation in the NHS. Large and more valuable contracts are being handed over to the private sector.
“The feeling from exec is: the NHS belongs to us.”
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