Defend the NHS: Brighton Budget Day Protest by Pip Tindall

Pip Tindall, Branch International Officer and tireless defender of Brighton's public services files this report by Defend The NHS.

Up to 60 protesters braved the cold and gathered at the Clock Tower on the evening of Wednesday 3rd November for a rally and march organized by Defend the NHS and Brighton Trades Council.

The crowd, made up of health, council and public sector workers and campaigners, gathered to say “NO!” to George Osborne’s and Eric Pickle’s cuts. Shop stewards, union officials, and campaigners from UNISON Health, Unite Health, Brighton & Hove Council UNISON, the PCS, Brighton Benefits Campaign and Keep Our NHS Public described the effects of the Government’s cuts and attacks on the working class.

Nurses and health workers are facing a vicious attack on their national pay and conditions whilst the NHS is ruthlessly privatised; cuts to the council budget results in redundancies, job losses and the closure of services for the most vulnerable; unemployment and under-employment rises whilst DWP workers lose their jobs and services are contracted out to underachieving, profiteering private companies – the same companies which carry out the government policies of punishing the disabled and most vulnerable with workfare schemes and cuts in benefits.

But the message of the speakers was that the fight-back is beginning: workers and unions are joining forces across the public sector and beyond. A huge rally of health workers in Bristol last weekend showed the management they will not tolerate the introduction of regional pay; a campaign in Stroud has halted privatization; in Hackney the new Clinical Commissioning Board has had to change its constitution; locally the council has had to re-think its planned closure of centres for people with learning difficulties; and workers at the local Job Centre are involved in industrial action to protect jobs and services.

Campaigners too are making headlines: every week the Brighton Benefits Campaign organizes anti Workfare protests against companies such as SuperDrug.  And Keep Our NHS Public needs your support to hand in its petition to NHS Sussex, Wednesday 12th December, 2pm Trafalgar House (near Brighton Station).

Defend our NHS Brighton has been formed by health workers, union activists and public campaigners to offer support to all workers in the NHS who want to defend their jobs and the services they provide.