WORKERS, NOV 2006 ISSUE
After two one-day national strikes the Unison members employed by NHS Logistics have given up their token protest against privatisation to DHL. The TGWU members voted against the strike. GMB members sent a message of solidarity and went to work.
The two days of strike – one during the week of the TUC and one during the Labour Party conference – have as with all tokenism disappeared without trace.
The second strike day saw DHL announce it would disestablish the jobs of 3,000 existing staff – 500 of them to be made redundant, the others offered re-engagement on reduced terms and conditions as casual self-employed workers. Unison had walked into a cul-de-sac. The only solution was to retreat and prepare to fight another day.
The fight now is to maintain trade unionism within DHL and to resist casualisation. And it has to expose the wider, more sinister privatis-ation manoeuvres planned by the government.
Though NHS Logistics (now DHL NHS Supplies) delivered only about 10 per cent of NHS materials, the government is saying it wants to have only one NHS procurement and delivery company – a transfer worth billions of pounds of business to DHL and, behind the scenes, the US Novation company.
Novation used to be a partner of DHL, now it is a sub-contractor. The reason? Because of US Senate investigations into Novation's business practices. Those practices which seemingly would have put Enron to shame – and possibly Blair's government (if shame were something it were prone to).