Unite leverage squads turn attention to private sector providers in the NHS

Last year, Unite’s leverage department generated a storm of publicity with its actions during the Grangemouth dispute. Directors of the employer, Ineos, were targeted in their homes, with one executive calling the police after a leverage squad of 25 protesters arrived on his road, complete with banners and a giant, inflatable rat.

Now, word reaches Uncut that the union’s leverage squads will be turning their attention to private sector involvement in the NHS.

In a letter sent to union members, Unite leader Len McCluskey states,

“Our Leverage Department has now turned its efforts towards protecting our NHS…Unite will not stand by as the vested interest groups carve up the NHS for private gain and our Leverage Department has begun work to protect accident and emergency wards in your community, to protect hospitals and GP centres under threat in your community, and to expose and prevent the vested interest groups who tender for NHS work, those groups who have profit before patient care.”

On the Unite website, the work of the leverage department is described as,

“…a process whereby the Union commits resources and time to making all interested parties aware of the treatment received by Unite members at the hands of an employer. Those interested parties may include shareholders of the employer; competitors of the employer; communities within which the employer operates; customers of the employer and the market place of the employer…”

This latest move seems to represent an escalation of leverage activities. While in previous cases, leverage squads were deployed in industrial disputes like Grangemouth, it appears that ideological battles – such as the role of the private sector in delivering health services –  will now be fought using these same tactics.

While many on the left in the Labour movement would support Unite’s expansion in the use of leverage, it is likely to cause the Labour leadership a headache in the run up to the general election.

The inevitable question that will be asked of Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham will be whether they back Unite’s decision to deploy leverage squads over the NHS.

If they condemn it, the story will be about another Labour-Unite spat. If they do not, then the old headlines about Labour being in the pocket of Unite and trade union militancy, will be recycled.

Either way, Labour is about to be put on the defensive.

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14 Responses to “Unite leverage squads turn attention to private sector providers in the NHS”

  1. Tafia says:

    Unite appear to be on a suicide mission. There is enough Parliamentary time left to get an amendment to existing legislation to ban this sort of activity. One thing Unite need to realise is that Labour’s past record regarding Tory anti-union legislation is that they don’t repeal it.

    It also fuels the right wing press and allows Cameron to be the tough guy – two things that you do not do in the last year of a Parliament.

    They need to grit their teeth for now and box clever.

  2. steve says:

    Well done Unite.

    Their record demonstrates that today’s Labour/Progress Party cannot be trusted to defend a publicly owned, accountable NHS.

    Those taking a stand against privatisation deserve our support and gratitude.

  3. Bob says:

    Steve: the private sector was used during the years of the last Labour government to politically reduce waiting lists at the expense of patients, in that those waiting longest were treated before those with clinical need.

    I worked in South Manchester and we used to send patients to Sheffield and the local private hospital for low risk cardiac surgery, whilst we dealt with patient who had higher level risk due to co-morbidities. My aunt from Liverpool was given a choice of cardiac surgery in Scotland at HCI Glasgow that week or wait some weeks in Liverpool. The ISTC in Manchester was paid for cases that were never actually done as there were not enough patients. Wythenshawe Hospital had a PFI build constructed and as part all non medical services were contracted out, now we have a 1.1 billion pound PFI mortgage and recently found 20 million pound budget black hole.

    Where were the unions in particular Unite and Unison when all this was going on under Blair and Brown, silent as the grave, now hypocritically attacking the ConDems for something that was inherited from Burnham and his predecessors. What about the deaths at Stafford and other places, we did not hear the unions complain then, is because it may have implicated some of their members in those places.

  4. BenM says:

    “If they condemn it, the story will be about another Labour-Unite spat. If they do not, then the old headlines about Labour being in the pocket of Unite and trade union militancy, will be recycled.”

    …and have no impact on the election.

    My guess is Unite will get more sympathy in this action than any facelss corporate parasite feeding off NHS funding.

    The public is rightly suspicious of private provision in the NHS. Not every union move is condemned by the public.

  5. Ex Labour says:

    Is this not ‘Harassment’ in the eyes of the law. Local authorities are supposed to intervene when it happens, but it can also be classified as a criminal offence with 6 months time or 5K fine.

    If I were on the end of it, I would make sure Mc Scouse Twat gets held responsible.

    I agree with Tafia also. Vote loser all the way from these morons.

  6. Dave Roberts says:

    I agree with Tafia as well. It didn’t work at Grangemouth and it won’t work anywhere else. The unions will be seen as bully boys and that will reflect on Labour like it or not. McCluskey will retire on a wacking great pension and a lot of lower down union officials will end up with criminal records.

  7. Madasafish says:

    Imagine if employers used these tactics against union members . There would be outcries.

  8. steve says:

    Bob: “Where were the unions”

    I haven’t suggested the unions should support NHS privatisation when it is implemented by New Labour/Progress. And certainly, I am no supporter of the Tories within the Labour Party.

    However, when the unions do the right thing and oppose NHS privatisation they should be congratulated and supported – not only are they protecting the pay and conditions of their members they’re also protecting the health of the nation.

  9. bob says:

    Where were the unions when conditions in hospitals such as Stafford, East Kent, Basildon and we are awaiting the result of a criminal investigation into Morcambe Bay were leading to death rates above the average expected. Tameside for years has been criticised by the Coroner about its standards of care. If the unions were aware and they damn well should be if they are talking to their members, protest about what was going on. Oh sorry, it was a Labour government at the time.

    Having along many colleagues with been shafted by a union over a dispute with NHS management where we had a cast iron case, what happened, they colluded with the RCN to have the case quietly closed. One so called manager took early retirement, with a redundancy pay off of £40,000 pound plus approx £120,000 lump sum and an annual pension of approx £20,000 per year. This kept other managers in their jobs who were far more culpable of racial and sexual discrimination, bullying and harassment.

    All Unite and others want is a monthly subscription and to use the workers as a battering ram in their politically motivated actions. These days people cannot afford to go on strike, it’s only the politically motivated extremists who are employed by the unions who can afford to protest. Most NHS staff are members because of the indemnity insurance and nothing else. The RCN, a union, has now withdrawn indemnity cover to its NHS memebers, Unite and Unison will follow in due course.

    Labour embraced the private sector with relish to keep unfunded spending ‘off the books’, hospitals and schools are a prime example.

  10. steve says:

    bob: “Labour embraced the private sector [within the NHS] with relish”

    And that’s why I didn’t vote New Labour in 2010 and won’t be voting New Labour in 2015.

  11. paul barker says:

    I am glad to see that 6 out of the first 10 comments condemn Unites thuggery but you are still going to take the money they extract from their members. What does that say about your Party.

  12. steve says:

    Paul Barker “What does that say about your Party.”

    It tells us that the pro-NHS privatisation Tories within the Labour Party aren’t able to deliver sufficient funds to finance a general election campaign.

    Only a Labour victory will realise Miliband’s ambition of state funding for political parties. But when that happens the Labour Party will become even more out of touch and the PLP careerists will find their seats becoming increasingly unsafe.

  13. Frankie D. says:

    God, you’re a load of cowardly tory cunts on this site, arent you? Ooo, running scared of the working man!

  14. Derek Emery says:

    Labour is a blast from the past as is Hollande. How often can you replay the old cracked 78 with policies decided eons ago, especially as these have been tried time and time again and do not deliver. This is the 21st century with a global economy like it or not.
    To survive the UK needs structural and fiscal changes. If I had to chose a party least likely to deliver these changes instead of the old spend borrow and tax, that party would be Labour.

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