Year 2000 No. 183, October 30, 2000
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
National Consultative Conference 2000 to Be Held on December 9-10
Dudley Workers Vote to Escalate Action
Demonstration of Dudley Hospital Workers against the
Health Workers Defend their Interests by Defending the Interests of Society
News In Brief
NHS Crisis to Intensify this Winter
Aer Lingus Workers Stage Militant Action
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The Central Committee of RCPB(ML) has informed WDIE that the Partys National Consultative Conference 2000 is to be held on the weekend of December 9-10.
The theme of the National Consultative Conference will be "The Crystallisation of the Partys Tasks".
The National Consultative Conference is being held according to the resolution passed by the National Consultative Forum of September 12, 1999. The resolution, On the Work of RCPB(ML), read:
"Whereas the Party must act with the full force of the collective in its work on all fronts;
"Whereas the cutting edge of the work remains Improve the Content, Extend the Readership in the new circumstances;
"Whereas it is necessary for the whole Party to implement and elaborate the decisions of the 3rd Congress;
"This National Consultative Forum proposes to the Central Committee that a National Consultative Conference be held by the end of the year 2000 to sum up the work of this start-up period and to crystallise the Partys new tasks at the commencement of the 21st century."
WDIE will publish further details of the National Consultative Conference as they become available. Anyone interested in attending should contact the Party immediately to apply for credentials.
A 12-day strike will start at 12.01 today, ending at 11.59 on Friday, November 11.
Demonstration of Dudley Hospital Workers against the PFI:
A demonstration of the Dudley hospital workers campaign against Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in the NHS will take place on November 4. It will assemble at Stourbridge Town Hall from 12.30 pm. A conference on PFI called by UNISON West Midlands Region will take place before the demonstration. (Details and application on www.labournet.net). There will be a rally at the Town Hall following the march at approximately 2.00 pm.
The health workers at the Dudley Trust are fighting against plans to transfer staff to Summit Healthcare in an £88m PFI scheme. In a recent letter to all UNISON branches, Rodney Bickerstaffe, General Secretary of UNISON, has called on branches to organise support for the demonstration and give financial support to the strikers.
These actions of the Dudley hospital workers against the PFI, along with other actions launched by other health and other workers against the PFI, are a very significant development. These struggles are being waged not only in defence of the interests of the health workers affected by the transfer from the public to the private sector but the whole struggle against the PFI is a struggle which is in the general interest of society. The monopoly media ignores this struggle precisely because of the issues it raises. The issue that it presents is fundamental to the society we live in and its future. Should spending on social programmes and public services be transformed into arrangements that provide profits for big business and finance capital a path which is intensifying the political and economic crisis in Britain, or should society be organised to meet the claims of the people who live and work in it and a path that will lead society out of the crisis?
The answer that the Labour government gives is that it is proud of its record of removing the obstacles to the PFI arrangement in order to serve the interests of finance capital. It continually congratulates itself on what it sees as an achievement that the previous government was unable to accomplish. Andrew Smith, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is one of many who boast about the government achievements. In his report on PFI at the end of last year he said: "We have already had one step change in the delivery of public service infrastructure since this Government came into power. Over the last two and a half years, we have fundamentally reformed PFI. By prioritising projects, ending universal testing, offering a fairer deal to staff and standardising contracts, we have streamlined PFI and put it on a more sustainable and successful basis." He continued: "The flow of deals has risen rapidly as a result. In less than two years contracts with a combined value approaching £5 billion have been signed compared with £4 billion over the whole of the previous Parliament. PFI will generate some £11 billion worth of new investment over the period 1999/00 to 2001/02." Using this logic he goes on to point out that the "next step" is "expanding the PFI and applying it in sectors where it has not been extensively used before and enabling smaller projects to combine so PFI is a more cost- effective option".
Of course, what the government fails to point out is the amount of debt servicing and profit making that such "investment" will cost society. It is signing contracts of up to 30 years guaranteeing billions of pounds to the private sector whilst it at the same time it does not guarantee the future of the NHS. It is already estimated under the present projections of the PFI that in 20 years time £140 billion will be paid from the Treasury to big companies each year. Such a sum is over five times the present amount paid in interest on the National Debt and indicates the scale on which the ruling circles are planning to take their pay the rich system.
It is important that health workers along with the working class as a whole grasp the significance of what the PFI represents. It is one of the centrepieces of the anti-social offensive which New Labour, as present champion of the bourgeoisie, is trying to put in place. It wants to ensure that the monopoly and finance capitalists counter the falling rate of profit and receive handouts, contracts and are paid in every conceivable way through the operation of the anti-social offensive throughout society. The defeat of the PFI by the working class would represent a serious blow to the bourgeoisie and their plans. It means for the health workers that they should not only defend their interests but defend these interests by defending the general interests of society and by uniting people around this programme is their most powerful weapon.
Workers Weekly Health Group
The new chief executive of the NHS is warning that there will be "real pressure" on the service this winter.
Despite pledging long-term big changes to the NHS, Nigel Crisp says he has no doubt there will be problems in the coming months because the NHS does not have the capacity to cope. He says health authorities will be using private hospitals to provide extra beds for urgent cases and to take the pressure off staff.
"This winter, weve got more capacity than last year, more beds and more nurses. We are better prepare but we will undoubtedly have bits of the service come under real pressure," he said. He went on, "We need more capacity. I am the first chief executive to come in and say we need more beds and this is a serious commitment we are making."
The new chief executive said that staffing problems, particularly with nurses, were the "real constraint" on the growth of capacity. He starts his job as chief executive of the NHS on Wednesday.
On Friday, October 27, 1,200 Aer Lingus clerical workers staged a four hour work stoppage. As part of their action they marched to the company headquarters chanting the slogan "No more yellow packs!". This slogan is in reference to the term used to describe the low pay grades introduced by major companies such as the banks and airlines from the late 1980s onwards.
A leaflet issued by the SIPTU Aer Lingus Trade Union Branch outlines why the workers "have been left with no option but to take industrial action in pursuit of a fair wage". It describes how over a two year period management have refused to address the issue of low pay. In 1999 Aer Lingus made a profit of 74.6 million Euros. Because of factors like this the workers feel that the company can afford to improve pay. This particularly applies to the lower paid workers, some of whom are only receiving about 4.75 per hour.
As part of ongoing widespread action by airline workers to fight against low pay, catering workers are planning to hold a twenty-four strike next Thursday from 05.00 a.m. The clerical workers may also hold a twenty-four hour strike next Friday as part of their ongoing action.
From Ireland Correspondent
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