Just got back from Dorchester where a couple of thousand people marched against the closure of the Kingfisher children’s ward at Dorset County Hospital; estimates vary between one and three thousand. Unless you believe the Echo who put it in the hundreds, odd since they are publicly supporting the campaign.
Conspicuous by his absence was ‘Evil Oliver’ Letwin, who has been hedging his bets, he would not have had a pleasant experience, we think. The march was good-natured but shows the strength of feeling in West Dorset about keeping our health services local, it was organised in a week and people required little prompting to turn out.
This is a grass-roots phenomenon bubbling up from the ground. The left are running to catch up; what will it take to get the unions to put their weight behind this? The workers at the hospital would be a good place to start. It’s all very well going to the capital a couple of times a year and trudging round in a giant police kettle, which just confirms the centralisation of power and frankly, is an exercise in hand-wringing. Here is an opportunity to strike back against austerity and let’s face it, save lives.
A couple of things have occurred to us and need to be widely appreciated:
It’ been pointed out by a comrade who is a practising midwife that the loss of Paediatric services and the Special Care Baby Unit will make the maternity ward untenable.
Next to close will be A & E.
They can then have another go at shutting the pathology lab which was only saved after a similar public outcry last year.
Then why not just sell off the rest?
We are under no illusions. This is a planned, progressive asset-strip. Letwin would not dream of associating himself with this campaign if he didn’t personally believe it was doomed to failure, so the decision has already been taken, somewhere, and the consultation exercise is just to soften up the public.
That doesn’t mean we are going to allow it to happen, if enough people get out to stop it. The health service is a pyramid with a three-cornered base. At its apex are the managers, politicians and ultimately, their corporate masters. At the base are the medical staff, support staff and the patients – all workers and taxpayers. Unite the base and we will cut the top off!
Under the one-party dictatorship, workers in China are still deprived of the three labour rights: freedom of association, the right to strike, and the right to collective bargaining. Their struggles for labour rights often lead to oppression from government officials and employers. Meanwhile, due to the undemocratic political system and collusion between government and enterprises, workers in Hong Kong are similarly deprived of standard working hours and the right to collective bargaining.
As Chinese workers become aware of their legal rights, they are more courageous in their struggles which are also becoming more frequent. In the meantime, apart from forcing labour organizations to close down their offices, local governments are gradually turning to the use of violence and detention as repressive means against workers who are often forced to accept resignation compensation which is much lower than what is stipulated in the law. In the first six months of 2015, there were at least three cases of labour disputes in which police broke into the venues where workers were meeting. They beat up and arbitrarily arrested staff of labour organizations and workers representatives. At least 7 labour activists are now in prison (see name list below). Some of them are serving life or long term imprisonment due to their support of the 1989 Democratic Movement or organizing independent labour movement. There are also innumerable but undocumented cases of labour activists who are detained or criminalized.
Since the second half of 2014, the Chinese government has been tightening its surveillance of mainland NGOs that receive overseas funding and are stifling the development of the civic society and the labour movement. On June 16th, 2014, the Guangzhou Government passed the ordinance of “Community Organizations Management Directives”, stipulating that any NGO primarily funded by an overseas NGO would be defined as a branch of the overseas NGO, allowing its activities to be restricted or even banned. The draft Foreign NGOs Management Law and the National Security Law will be reviewed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress this year. The purpose of the new laws is to block mainland NGOs from building connections and receiving support from overseas. Under the new laws, Chinese people’s right to free association will be further curtailed.
We call on the Hong Kong and International Community to continue to focus on labour rights in China and urge the Chinese Government to immediately:
Release all imprisoned labour activists, and stop all suppression and violent acts against labour organizations and workers’ representatives;
Ratify ILO Conventions No. 87 and No. 98; namely the implementation of the right to organize trade unions and collective bargaining, the elimination of severe constraints on domestic NGOs, the protection of the freedom of association and the establishment of the three labour rights;
Implement strict law enforcement to severely penalize enterprises for labour rights infringement and to protect labour rights
The AAN website has been updated and new content is being added all the time, however the SSL certificate has expired which means a new one must be purchased and installed, this is being sorted by the collective. In the meantime you will see a ‘security warning’ that depending on the browser you are using will look something like the examples below. You will then have to jump through a few hoops to access the site, ignoring all their dire warnings, and we hope you will; it’s perfectly safe and fortune favours the bold!
In that case you have to click on ‘advanced’ to proceed to the site.