Sunday, October 31, 2010

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Don't supersize our councils!

PUBLIC sector unions Unite and Unison both came out firmly against plans to merge three north London boroughs in order to cut administration costs.
The proposal to merge Westminster City Council, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea was given the go-ahead in response to the deep cuts announced by the Government in
Wednesday’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).
Peter Allenson, Unite national officer for local government, said: "The clue is in the name; local government means close to the local community.
"While the severity and speed of the coalition cuts puts horrific pressure on local authorities to cut services, we urge them not to rush into untested structures which could see service users unsure who to turn to when they need help.
"From cleansing services to child protection to social care, councils have to be close to the needs of their communities and the people who elect them and pay for them – and council workers need to know who is in charge.
"Supersizing the delivery of services like this means local councillors become insignificant and have little influence on the services they provide. Voters will soon become disenfranchised and wonder what they are paying for.
"People know and trust local services and have a sense of ownership. Councils play with this trust at their peril."
Unison is angry that it learnt about the merger green-light, not from the employers, but from the press.
Linda Perks, Unison regional secretary for Greater London, said: “The merger plans are bound to mean that services and standards will fall, as decision making becomes even more removed from local people. In addition, any mergers are bound to lead to significant job losses. This will add more London public sector employees to the dole queues and damage the capital’s already fragile economy.
“This announcement clearly demonstrates that the Government’s CSR really means Cuts Strangle Recovery! Unison demands that these three boroughs stop their political posturing and start to talk to the trade unions who represent some very worried employees across West London”.

London firefighters name new strike days

LONDON firefighters staged a successful strike on Saturday 23rd October in protest at management threats to sack all who refuse to sign up to new working conditions.
They also plan to strike on Monday 1st November and have announced another strike, for 47 hours, from Friday 5th November to Sunday 7th November.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Today London’s 5,600 firefighters did the last thing they wanted to do. They went on strike for eight hours, leaving the capital without their expertise.
“It was an orderly, disciplined but solid strike. Eight out of 10 of them voted in the ballot, and of those, eight out of ten voted in favour of the strike. All of them supported it on the day.”
“This wasn’t a fight we sought or wanted. London Fire Brigade wants changes in shift patterns; we are willing to negotiate changes. But we do expect to negotiate them; we won’t have them imposed on us by the threat of sacking all our members. That’s what LFB tried to do.”
But the LFB has so far refused to negotiate and the FBU has named 5th to 7th November as the date for its third strike in this dispute.
In an article in the Guardian, Matt Wrack gave more details on the process that led to the strike and why the union had no choice.
“Our disagreement with the LFB did not arise on 11th August,” he said. “There's a specific background, and a general one. The LFB was acting under section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. If, 90 days after the start of this process, we have not reached an agreement which is satisfactory to the employer they have placed themselves in a position where they may legally fire all 5,600, and offer them re-employment on unilaterally imposed contracts.
It is a process which is designed to avoid having to negotiate a settlement. Why negotiate when you can sack everyone and invite them back on new contracts? It is also a process that is spreading; 26,000 workers at Birmingham city council have received similar letters under section 188; so too have 8,500 at Sheffield city council. It is a real return to Victorian values: "Do it our way or clear off!"
In the LFB our negotiations were originally about shift patterns.
“Until 11th August, talks were being conducted in what both sides recognised was a constructive spirit. Currently London firefighters work two day shifts a week of nine hours each, from 9am to 6pm, and two night shifts of 15 hours each, from 6pm to 9am.
“The employer wants a new system of two 12-hour day shifts from 8am to 8pm, and two 12-hour night shifts, from 8pm to 8am.
“We oppose this, for two reasons. First, it is known that the LFB wants to cut down on night-time fire cover, and the Fire Brigades Union believes that this is the LFB's main reason for wanting to change shift patterns.
“Having equal length day and night shifts will make it administratively easier to achieve. The justification for cutting night-time fire cover is that there are fewer fires at night. This is true, but the fires that do occur at night tend to be major ones, and are reported at a later stage. Night time is when most fire deaths occur.
“Cuts in night-time cover will mean some fire stations will close or certain fire engines will be withdrawn from service at night. This will certainly mean that sometime, a life will be lost which would otherwise have been saved.
“Second, the new patterns would make it very hard for firefighters with young families to see much of their children. Because of the physical demands of the job, frontline firefighters tend to be relatively young men and women, and many of them have young families.
“All the same, we've made it clear we are prepared to find a way through, and until 11th August I thought the London Fire Brigade were too.
“Here is what I think has changed. The London fire and emergency planning authority is chaired by Councillor Brian Coleman, a particularly aggressive Tory who seems to take pleasure in sneering at firefighters, and minimising the dangers and difficulties of their work and the skill required to do it. Coleman's most recent contribution to the debate was to confirm that the 11th August letter was ‘as good as’ a letter of dismissal, adding: ‘I'm quite relaxed about that... firefighters who don't sign the new contract won't be re-employed.’
“To get us back to work right now, we only need the dismissal letters withdrawn. But in the long term, an employer who shows some respect for our members' dedication and professionalism would work wonders.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Free the Miami Five!

By a New Worker correspondent

New Worker supporters and hundreds of other Londoners braved the pouring rain on Tuesday to take part in a candlelit vigil outside the US embassy and demand the release of the Miami Five. TUC leader Brendan Barber, veteran Labour politician Tony Benn and a number of other union leaders joined the daughter of one of the Cuban prisoners in calling for their immediate release during the early evening vigil in Grosvenor Square.
Five Cubans have been unjustly imprisoned in US jails since 1998 for trying to stop terrorist attacks against Cuba. The United Nations, Amnesty International and numerous legal, religious and human rights organisations have questioned the fairness of their trial and long sentences, and condemned the US government’s persistent refusal to grant visas to allow two of their wives to visit.
For more than 40 years, right wing Cuban exile groups based in Miami have killed almost 3,500 people in terrorist attacks against Cuba. To save lives, Cuba sent five men to Miami to infiltrate and monitor the groups. At the request of the US government, this information was passed to the FBI in 1998.But instead of arresting the terrorists, the FBI used the information to identify and arrest the five Cubans on 12th September 1998 in Miami and charged them with spying and conspiracy.
Cuba has acknowledged that the prisoners are intelligence agents, while confirming they were spying on Miami’s Cuban exile community and not the US government.
Two of the prisoners’ wives, Olga Salanueva and Adriana PĂ©rez, have been refused visas ten times and have not seen their husbands for 10 and 12 years.
Last August, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber wrote to US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to protest about the “cruel punishment” meted out to Gerardo Hernandez, who was placed in a tiny windowless for the third time when seeking to appeal against his conviction.
“Not only is this cruel punishment being imposed without explanation, and preventing Gerardo from seeing his lawyers at a crucial stage in his preparation for Habeas Corpus, but it has also been imposed while Gerardo is experiencing health problems,” Barber said.
Eight Nobel Prize winners as well as 110 British MPs have also taken up their cause, writing to the US Attorney General calling for the immediate release of all five.

No more help for bad blood victims

ANNE MILTON, Public Health Minister in the Con-Dem government, last week ruled out raising compensation levels for the victims of one of the worst scandals of the NHS.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s the NHS purchased blood for transfusion from the United States without checking its origins. Much of it turned out to be contaminated with HIV and with hepatitis C
Almost 5,000 people contracted HIV and Hepatitis C after they were given contaminated blood products, which were given to patients suffering with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders.
An independent public inquiry into the matter was held in 2007, chaired by Labour peer Lord Archer of Sandwell. Lord Archer’s report called it a “horrific human tragedy”.
The independent inquiry was funded with private donations as successive governments rejected demands for a full inquiry.
The current scheme of pay-outs to victims is funded by private donations and charitable organisations.
While campaigners for proper compensation marched and lobbied outside Parliament Anna Milton ruled out a suggestion by a 2007 public inquiry to match those made in the Irish Republic.
Milton said she would look again at people infected with Hepatitis C.
Cardiff Central Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Willott said victims had deserved to have the recommendations “seriously considered”.
Milton was speaking in the first debate on private members’ Bills on a Bill sponsored by Pontypridd MP Owen Smith after the death of one of his constituents, Leigh Sugar.
Sugar, a 44-year-old haemophiliac, died in June of liver cancer caused by Hepatitis C he contracted through contaminated blood in the 1980s.
His family was among the campaigners in Parliament Square.
Milton told the Commons she would review the situation and report back by Christmas. She said she was “acutely aware that campaigners on this issue have been left hanging for far too long”.
Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson, who opened the debate, described Milton’s statement as “useless”.
He urged ministers to meet victims, some of whom were watching the debate from the public gallery, to “see what reaction they get”.
“They want closure on it, they’re fed up with it...,” he said.
“This government had an opportunity to make a new start, to bring closure to this great human tragedy and they have refused to do so,” he said.
Jenny Willott said 1,200 people had been infected with HIV, 4,670 with Hepatitis C and more than 1,800 people had died.
She added: “Since it has taken over 20 years to have an inquiry I think the least the victims deserve is to have the recommendations seriously considered, even those which are expensive.”
Speaking before the debate Owen Smith said he hoped it would be the first step to a full inquiry and a UK government-backed compensation scheme.
Margaret Sugar, who was among the demonstrators outside, said: “As he [Leigh Sugar] got ill, the more sick he became, he said to my daughter-in-law this has got to come out. Nothing will bring my son back but what I want is justice.”
Leigh Sugar’s cousin, David Thomas, 39, was also infected with contaminated blood in the early 1980s and has liver problems caused by contracting Hepatitis C.
He said: “It beggars belief we received this through the NHS. Successive governments for the last 20 years have known about the Hepatitis C virus and its cause through the receipt of contaminated blood products and have dodged the issue but hopefully now it’s getting the airing it deserves.”

London firefighters to strike

FIREFIGHTERS in London voted by 79 per cent in a ballot for strike action against management threats of mass sackings to enforce a change of shift patterns. The first two 24-hour strikes are planned for Saturday 23rd October and Monday 1st November.
The Fire Brigades Union has told London Fire Brigade Commissioner that he can avert the strikes by withdrawing his letter of 11th August, which began the legal process of sacking the capital’s 5557 uniformed and 41 non-operational firefighters.
The majority was 79 per cent and the turnout was 79 per cent.
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This is a huge vote for strike action. Firefighters hate going on strike – but they hate being bullied even more. This vote demonstrates that London firefighters will fight these mass sackings every step of the way.
“The London Fire Brigade now needs to lift the sacking notices and start negotiating properly. I hope that even at this late stage, Ron Dobson will do the sensible thing, so that we can get round a table with him and sort out our differences over shift patterns without a gun being held to our heads.”
The union delayed setting strike dates for 24 hours to give Dobson a “last chance to do the sensible thing and withdraw the letters of dismissal so we can return to negotiating on the question of shift patterns” said FBU executive member for London Ian Leahair.
London firefighters have been taking action short of a strike, including an overtime ban and a ban on “acting up”, since Friday 24th September.
Meanwhile Dobson has already started to play dirty by withdrawing 27 fire engines to be hidden away for use by a private strike-breaking company during the strike.
Matt Wrack said last Thursday: “This is nothing but provocation. The result of our strike ballot is not even out yet, but the Chief Fire Officer has taken away 27 fire engines from local stations and local communities, when firefighters are there and ready to use them.
“The Brigade has a duty to consult with staff and public over reductions on fire cover. It failed to do so.”
The FBU acted after reports that: London Fire Brigade had last Thursday morning, unannounced, removed 27 fire appliances from frontline cover.
The appliances are to be used by strikebreaking service (AssetCo) in the event of a strike.
Removed appliances have not been replaced; stations where appliances have been removed have been re-designated as one-appliance rather than two-appliance stations; 27 appliances equates to almost a fifth of London’s entire fleet; staff have not been informed of any new mobilising arrangements. The FBU predicted it will cause huge confusion.

Lobbying against anti-union laws

By a New Worker correspondent

Trade unionists lobbied Parliament last week to persuade MPs to back a Private Members bill that would prevent employers from using technicalities to block industrial action.
John McDonnell MP has introduced the Bill to prevent employers blocking the democratic wishes of trade union members who have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action. Employers constantly challenge democratic union ballots on minor technical grounds which would have had no affect on the outcome of the ballot. Bosses organisations, and the Mayor of London, are now calling for a complete twisting of the basic rules of democracy to tighten the noose even further around workers necks.
John McDonnell’s Bill is already gaining broad support and to progress to its next stage 100 MPs need to attend Parliament for its Second Reading on Friday 22nd October. McDonnell, the chair of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), is also the Parliamentary Group convenor for the RMT transport union. RMT General Secretary Bob Crow has thrown his weight behind the campaign saying: “We know that there has been a new push from the bosses’ organisations, the Mayor of London and other Tory politicians since the election to try and get the Government to load the law on industrial action even further in their favour. We also know that the Thatcherites driving the ConDem administration are ideologically anti-union.
“With the cuts battle set to intensify this autumn there is no doubt that the Government and the employers will see the anti-union laws as an important weapon in trying to choke off workplace resistance to attacks on jobs and services.
“Now is the time for the trade union movement to rally round and defend the basic right to strike and the right to defend jobs, standards of living and public services. John McDonnell’s Private Members Bill is the focal point for the union fight back against the anti-union laws.”

Solidarity with the Workers Party of Korea

New Worker supporters joined other friends of Democratic Korea in the heart of London last Saturday. Over 30 people from all walks of life including workers, teachers, students and pensioners took part in the celebration of the 65th anniversary of the Workers Party of Korea organised by the UK Korean Friendship Association (UK KFA) and the Juche Idea Study Group and supported by the New Communist Party, Second Wave Publications and the south London Morning Star supporters group.
Dermot Hudson from the UK KFA and Shaun Pickford, the secretary of the Juche Idea Study Group both spoke about Korean-style socialism, the Juche Idea and Songun politics and NCP leader Andy Brooks highlighted the achievements of the Korean revolution as well as the immense contribution that the Workers Party of Korea had made to the world communist movement.
The exhibition, at the Marchmont Centre in central London, contained a large number of books and pamphlets for sale from the DPR Korea introducing the reality of the country and the Juche and Songun idea. Other progressive pamphlets and books were available from the New Worker, Second Wave and Morning Star stalls in the hall while the walls were covered with a collection of pictures of great leader Kim Il Sung and Marshal Kim Jong Il and others showing socialist construction and the unity of the people.

photo: a busy NCP stall

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Worker Pamphlets

The Case for Communism

Documents of the 16th Congress of the New Communist Party


The first 30 fighting years of the New Communist Party


People's China in perspective

On Stalin

Stalin & the BRS

Arab nationalism and the communist movement

All in the Family

New Technology and the need for Socialism

Orders to: NCP Lit, PO Box 73, London SW11 2PQ
please add 50p for postage and packing

Friday, October 15, 2010

Solidarity with Democratic Korea!

By a New Worker correspondent
NCP general secretary Andy Brooks joined other communists at a seminar last week to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK). Chaired by Dermot Hudson, the seminar organised by Friends of Korea (FOK) and held at the London HQ of the RCPB(ML) heard contributions from FOK activists and members of the audience on the achievements of the WPK and its leaders over the years.
The NCP leader praised the feats of the WPK and denounced the hostile propaganda of imperialism against the DPRK in his contribution. Michael Chant of the RCPB (ML) spoke about the importance and significance of the WPK and the great role of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and Dermot Hudson gave a succinct history of the Korean communists’ revolutionary struggle from its earliest days to last week’s historic conference in Pyongyang.
DPRK London diplomat Jang Song Chol told the meeting about the importance of last week’s special WPK conference that re-elected Kim Jong Il to the post of general secretary of the Party, filled a number of other important Party posts and made some amendments to the rule-book.
The meeting concluded with the unanimous agreement to send the following message congratulating Kim Jong Il on his re-election last week.

Message of Congratulations
Adopted at the Seminar organised by Friends of Korea

October 5th 2010 (Juche 99)
London, England

To Comrade Kim Jong Il
General Secretary, Workers’ Party of Korea

Dear Comrade Kim Jong Il

This Seminar convened to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the foundation of the Workers’ Party of Korea conveys to you its heartiest congratulations on the historic occasion of your re-election as General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, at the Conference of the Workers' Party of Korea on September 28.

Your unanimous re-election as General-Secretary of the WPK is testimony to the resounding confidence of the Korean people in your Songun revolutionary leadership based on the Juche principle, and in building a powerful and prosperous nation and a socialist system of the Korean people’s own choosing.

We also send our congratulations to all members of the WPK on the successful conclusion of the historic conference of the WPK and its important decisions to further strengthen it to fulfil its responsibilities under the national and international circumstances which it faces.

We have the utmost confidence that the conference marks another historic milestone in the forward march of the Korean nation, and that the Workers’ Party of Korea under your leadership is the sure weapon to defend the achievements of the Korean people. The conference has demonstrated that the unity of the Korean people and their leadership is unbreakable.

May we wish you on this occasion good health and long life, and assure you that we stand shoulder to shoulder with you in our common cause of building a new world, the world of peace, independence and socialism.

With warmest fraternal regards

Seminar organised by the Co-ordinating Committee of Friends of Korea

photo: Dermot Hudson and Andy Brooks

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Another successful Tube strike

THE LONDON Underground network was thrown into chaos by the second joint union strike against the planned cutting of 800 jobs – mainly ticket office staff. The 24-hour strike began at 18.30 on Sunday evening and lasted through until Monday evening.
Tube bosses claimed they had 40 per cent of trains running – a claim challenged by the unions RMT and TSSA who said the figure was nearer to 30 per cent – but with most stations closed and information confused few people could get on whatever trains were running.
Services on the entire Circle line were suspended. Services on seven other lines were part suspended, with special services on three other Tube lines.
At the same time many services on London Overground were part suspended due to faulty trains and signalling problems.
The strikers received solidarity messages from many other unions, including the TUC, Unite, PCS, FBU, Usdaw, NUT, NASUWT and NUJ.
But Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has consistently refused to meet the unions and was absent at the Tory party conference during the strike, used the disruption caused by the strike to demand even more draconian anti-union laws to prevent strikes in vital services.
He told delegates to the Tory conference: “I want to speak directly to the three million people who use the London Underground network every day, and the first and most important thing is how deeply I regret the inconvenience you are suffering as a result of this strike.
"And I say to the leaders of the unions that this gesture is nakedly and blatantly political; that it has nothing to do with health and safety or improving the terms and conditions of work of your members."
RMT general secretary Bob Crow responded: "The cuts to ticket offices and safety-critical station staffing levels that RMT members are fighting to prevent in the action today are the same cuts that Boris Johnson opposed before he was elected London mayor.
"To attack RMT and TSSA members standing up for Tube safety is hypocrisy of the highest order on the part of the mayor.
"The anger of the mayor's Tube staff at his repeated attacks on them is shown in the rock solid support for today's action and the fact that hundreds of staff have turned back at the picket lines. The mayor's assault has hardened attitudes and reinforced the determination to stop these cuts."
Days before the strike the RMT released pictures of worn-away brake blocks on trains that with finance-driven maintenance changes would be forced into service, a move that the union says demonstrate that financial cuts are ripping to shreds safety and maintenance schedules with lethal consequences for passengers and staff alike.
London Underground have begun trialing a new schedule which will double the period between brake inspections on tube trains from 14 to 28 days – the pictures that RMT released are of brake blocks after 14 days of wear on the tracks and show in the most graphic detail that if the current schedule is extended the brakes will be grinding metal on metal creating the perfect conditions for a major disaster.
Boris Johnson is seeking to ban strikes unless the ballot produces a majority in excess of 50 per cent of all who are entitled to vote – a move that would give a field day to lawyers in disputes over who is entitled to vote. And he has the backing of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
Bob Crow replied: "The CBI and Boris want to tighten the noose of the anti-union laws around the neck of working people.
"The vast majority of Boris's crew would not be in power had this distorted and bastardised version of democracy been applied to London Assembly members."
London Underground boss Howard Collins claimed that even after the cuts “every station will remain staffed at all times”. Bob Crow said this was “nonsense” because many stations already run unstaffed on a regular basis.
TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty said: “To use one of Boris’s own phrases – that is a pyramid of piffle.
"We would not have written to the mayor over six months ago asking him to talk to us over his plans to axe 800 ticket office jobs on the Tube if we were playing political games.
"He is a part-time mayor, part-time columnist and part-time game show host and he is not particularly good in any of those roles. Now he is turning a legal strike into a political game show.
"This is not a strike against central government. It is a strike against Boris’s plans to cut over 7,000 hours a week from ticket offices at all 274 stations at LU, purely a local government dispute."
Lianna Etkind from the campaign Transport for All pointed out that the cuts would make it much harder for disabled and older people to use the Tube network.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber also attacked Johnson’s call for more anti-union laws, saying: “The UK has some of the toughest legal restrictions on the right to strike in the advanced world. Already the courts regularly strike down democratic ballots that clearly show majority support for action.
“The CBI proposals are a fundamental attack on basic rights at work that are recognised in every human rights charter, and will be dismissed by any Government with a commitment to civil liberties.”

Friday, October 01, 2010

Tube dispute gathers steam

THE RMT and TSSA unions are stepping up their industrial action on many fronts in their fight to defend safe staffing levels at London Underground stations, after Transport for London (TfL) announced plans to cut 800 staff, whose loss will leave the network less safe.
This involves all sections of tube workers from ticket clerks to maintenance engineers and will involve work to rule, further strikes, the cancellation of weekend engineering works and a refusal to participate in the minimum £5 Oyster card top-up from Sunday 3rd October.
The overtime ban, which is already having a significant impact and causing station closures, remains in force and the staggered 24-hour strikes starting on 3rd October, 2nd November and 28th November are on.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “We have made every effort to resolve this dispute over safe staffing levels through negotiations and continue to pursue a settlement that will protect the safety of both staff and passengers and the quality of service to Tube users at all times and at all locations.
Following talks at Acas yesterday it is now up to London Underground management to come back to us with a positive response.
“Our members have shown their determination to defend the ticket offices, safety-critical station jobs and the whole future of a safe and secure tube network and we have announced the additional action today to push that campaign forwards.
“The Mayor and his transport officials cannot simply wash their hands of this dispute. Boris Johnson has said that he will stand up and fight for London against the Con-Dem government cuts – that’s exactly what RMT and TSSA members are doing on the tube right in the Mayor’s own back yard.
Rather than attacking us the Mayor, as chair of TfL, should instruct his officials to put safety first and withdraw the cuts that they are bulldozing through without agreement and with complete disregard for the consequences.”
Works hit by the overtime ban include major re-railing between White City and Marble Arch, as well as all work on signalling systems.
RMT has calculated that the cost to LU of the cancellations is already at least £15 million, cancelling out the saving the company claims it will make by removing 800 front-line staff.
The union also charged that LUL was running trains that had not been inspected within strict time-limits and was continuing to open under-staffed stations, in breach of safety rules and increasing risk to passengers and Tube staff.
Train brake blocks, cab equipment, chassis brackets and other critical equipment is supposed to be inspected at 14-day intervals, and the union has evidence that trains that have not been inspected for at least 22 days have not been taken out of service, as operating rules require.

GMB protest over hospital cuts

THE GMB general union this Wednesday staged a protest over plans by South London Healthcare NHS Trust to close the maternity and accident-and-emergency departments at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup.
The trust said it had to make the closures over the winter as it could not guarantee to keep the services running because of severe staffing problems.
The protest took place at the South London Healthcare NHS Trust Board meeting held on the 29th September at in Woolwich. The Board meeting will take place at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich in the dining room conference centre.
GMB called on trust staff and members of the public attend this meeting to tell the Trust just what these services mean to the local area.
Frank Macklin GMB officer said: “GMB members are very angry and disappointed with the Trust’s recent announcement to close the departments that provide an essential service to the surrounding areas.
“GMB believe that the decision to close these services is purely a financial one. GMB also has major concerns that the existing A&E department in the Queen Elizabeth hospital will not be able to cope as it is already operating at maximum capacity thereby increasing the risks of attacks on staff from the patients using this department on a daily basis.
“The Trust management has stated that they intend to close the departments temporarily, but GMB believe that these closures will be permanent.
“The news has come as no surprise to the neighbouring trusts which have been waiting for this day to come for a long time. Darrent Valley Hospital has said that as a result of the Queen Mary’s closure it expects to see another 7,000 patients in its A&E department and also it expects to deliver another 1,000 babies.
“It has also said that it has been actively recruiting midwives, consultants and nurses to meet this additional demand.
“Since the new Trust has been formed the emphasis has been on saving as much money as quickly as possible. Nearly every member of staff has seen their terms and conditions attacked as part of the Trust’s drive to make savings. There are currently over a 1,000 admin and clerical posts at risk of redundancy as well.”