Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Les Bennett (1920-2014) - COHSE Branch Secretary KGV Hydestile Hospital

Les Bennett a passionate supporter of "progress" and "justice" for mankind has passed away on the 6th April 2014 aged 94, he was born 20th March 1920 at Nursecombe near Bramley,

Les who as Branch Secretary of COHSE the health care union from 1948 was the driving force behind the union organising of health workers in the Godalming and Guildford area from the 1940's onwards. He was also a vociferous and passionate supporter of the National Health Service.

Under Les guidance the COHSE health union branch developed from a group of 10 hospital workers, to scared to make their union membership known, to a thriving union branch of over 1,000, a majority of whom were nurses.

Les Bennett was also a Hascombe Parish Council from 1953 for over fifty year, serving many years as Chairman. 

He was also a regular parishioner at Hascombe village church and life long labour party member.

Les was born the son of a Kent horticulturalist, after he left Bramley CofE school he started work aged 14 in a garden nursery, due  a motor car accident in which he received a fractured skull he was denied an opportunity to serve in the Royal Army Medical Corps during WW2, despite having being a member of the Red Cross at Shalford from 1938.
He then undertook various jobs in the building trade, it is hear that he received his education on the importance of trade unionism. He lost his job when the foremans son needed a job
In July 1941 as a Bath attendant at the newly relocated St Thomas Hospital, London, which had transferred patients to large mansion house in Milford due to the blitz in Easter of 1941.
The first thing the head porter told him was not to join a union, but that's exactly what Les and a few brave individuals did, meeting secretly at the Alton Ale House.
Les was elected as Branch secretary when many of the original founders of the branch moved back to London at the end of the War, taking a trade union postal course to acquire the skills needed to represent his members.
Les Bennett held the position of Branch Secretary from October 1948 until 1977.
One of Les Bennetts first actions as branch secretary was to write a letter to the COHSE journal exposing the scandal of local student nurses forced due to lack of income to pick onions on local farms to subsidies their meager earnings and to pay for rail tickets home

He was elected to the local Hascombe Parish Council in 1953 having beaten Major Goodman the local squire, a victor that caused him to be victimised but not by the electors who returned him for the next 50 years, many as Chairman
Les a quietly spoken man, brimming with inner confidence and a passion for justice, he was a devoted family man committed to caring for his wife Audrey especially during a long period of ill health towards the end of her life, and despite his many commitments to their children Valerie and twins Hazel, Lesley and Mary. He encouraged many young hospital workers to become active in  health care trade unionism, including Carles Martinez who was to succeed him as Branch secretary in 1977 and held the branch secretary position until 2007

Les Bennett ended his career as the much respected head porter at the hospital and was loved by his members who respected his tireless efforts on their behalf, he could also take pride in later years that as a result of his efforts, COHSE union membership at St Thomas Hospital, Milford Chest Hospital, King George V Sanatorium was close to 100%.
His legacy and battles for justice will live on and those who were fortunate enough to have known him will pay respect now and long into the future 

Les Bennett - Local Hero - Friend of The People


Les Bennett with Carles Martinez, who took over as Branch Secretary in 1977

and Les wife Audrey (his not in the picture were children children were Valerie, Hazel and Lesley)

With Mike Sumers COHSE Regional secretary

With Albert Spanswick COHSE General Secretary

COHSE is now Unison

Addenbrookes Hospital Cleaners Strike 1985-1986

Addenbrookes Hospital (Domestics) Cleaners Strike, Cambridge 1985-1986 against OCS Cleaning Company

Neasden Hospital Occupation 1986

Sunday, April 06, 2014

COHSE banner Durham Miners Gala 1988

COHSE banner at the Durham Miners Gala 1988
Yorkshire & Humberside

How Many Londoners are Dying for one of These? - NHS Bed - Billboard 1996

How Many Londoners are Dying for one of these? NHS Bed billboard 1996
UNISON, NHS Consultants Assoc and NHS Support Federation

COHSE NHS Rally 1985 - St Albans

COHSE NHS Rally St Albans, Hertfordshire 8th January 1985 huge attendance from members at Hill End and Shenley as well as local General hospitals.

Also include a miners speaker

Huge attendance and excellent speeches, notably from Paul Noone President of the Consultants Association

COHSE Colin Thomson - Marathon Runner

Colin Thomson COHSE health union regional officer based at Pontypridd and later Treforest COHSE office late 1980s to mid 90s, Yorkshire-man and regular marathon runner. Lived and trained in the Rhondda,

Completed his first 100 marathon's in 1993

Medical Committee Against Private Practice Campaign 1976

Medical Committee Against Private Practice 
Campaign 1976

TUC Demo - Nurses & Firefighters - Dec 2001

UNISON Nurses join FBU Firefighters for a TUC Demonstration December 2001 in defence of Public Services

Friday, April 04, 2014

Nurses Protest At Governmnets PRB Pay Veto

UNISON London nurses protest at the Coalition Governments decision to veto the Independent Pay Review Body recommendations and stop pay rises to 70% of London nurses for the next two years, despite massive nursing shortages in London and huge pay rises for MP's.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Maudsley Hospital COHSE Banner

COHSE Branch banner Maudsley Hospital circa 1988

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beatrice Drapper - NUCO and "Angel of Deptford"

Beatrice M Drapper – Deptford “Angel of Mercy” or “Our Beatrice”
Born Deptford, South London

Student at Scott-Lidgett’s, Bermondsey University Settlement and an orignal member of the "Beatrice" Dunkin, Club for Girls

Beatrice Drapper stated "I owe all my success in life to the Settlement"
Lived at 7 Evelyn Street,

Helped in the election of Will Crook’s as MP for Woolwich, one of the first Labour MP’s

A school manager from 1902-1927, Swimming and Gymnastics lecturer for the London county Council Schools & Welfare Board

Labour Councillor for North West Ward, Deptford from 1919 – 1956 (resigned 7/3/1956)

One of the first elected women Mayor’s in Britain, Deptford Mayor 1927-1928
Married Mr E. C. Drapper also a Labour Councillor who died in 1945

Helped establish NUCO at St Alfege’s hospital, Greenwich in 1918
Helped organise the feeding of Dockers families during the 1912 dock strike and was a leading figure in the campaign against the Chair of the Port of London authority who kept the Dockers in poverty. She was not alone 

“O God strike Lord Davenport dead” prayed Dockers leader Ben Tillett
From 1919 voluntary worker for the Poor Law Workers union (later National Union of County officers and COHSE ) from 1929 – 1946 paid employee of the union.

She was heavily involved in a case involving Peggy O'Neil a nurse suffering from TB of the spine (not then an industrial injury) and a bed patient for six years, with Beatrice help she was able to help Nurse O'Neil start a new life in America.

Justice of the Peace 1921 for Blackheath division

Elected to Greenwich Board of Guardians 1907 -1930 as a Labour representative (three years as Chairman)

During the 1921 she helped feed up to one thousand Dockers at deptford Central hall during the strike "cycling from her home at 5am in the morning in order to serve breakfast".She bought two shops in Deptford and converted them into a club for striking women tin workers who she helped organise into a union, serving 200 meat and veg meals daily at 4d a meal. 

The tin workers suffered terrible conditions and were pitifully paid. When they were taken to court for daring to strike she organised coaches to take the women tin workers to the Law courts hearings

Member of Lewisham hospital management committee
Officially opened the Woodlands Nurses home for nurses, Greenwich, December 1925
Appointed Chair of Chelsea Juvenile Court in 1945

Later moved to 46 Coniston Road, Bromley, Kent
Cremated Southend cemetery 4th December 1961

1962 COHSE Nurses Pay Campaign

1982 NHS Pay Campaign - 22nd September Demonstration

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Nursing Students Fightingback 2000 - Fighting Eviction

Nursing students at Woodlands Nursing Home, Greenwich, London faced immediate eviction from their nursing home in February 2000, with little notice, no alternative accommodation and in the middle of their nursing examinations.

UNISON organised the student nurses who ran a high profile campaign, starting with the storming of a Greenwich hospital board meeting and then went public about their plight, they also successfully balloting for strike action, securing a 99% mandate for strike action.

The huge opposition from the nursing students to the plans and support from the public led to the plans being put on hold until after the exams, a rent cut, a moving allowance and help with finding alternative accommodation

COHSE Nurses Demo Kingston 1988

Kingston Hospital COHSE and Rcn nurses at the gates 1988 (COHSE nurses on strike - Rcn lunchtime protest) 1988 Campaign

COHSE Nurses Stop the Pit Closures Demo 1992

COHSE nurses on the stop the Pit closures demo October 1992 .

Hyde Park, London

COHSE East Midlands & South Yorkshire Region

Friday, February 21, 2014

Newham Mayor 1969

Mrs Marjorie Helps, Mayoress of the London Borough of Newham in 1969, COHSE (now Unison) member at Plaistow Hospital

Picture Colm O Kane COHSE Regional Secretary and Mr E Chaubert COHSE Regional Chairman

COHSE Nurses and The Poll Tax

Unison Student Nurses Campaigning Against Poverty Pay 2000

Unison nursing students campaigning for better pay in 2000 outside St Thomas Hospital with Florence Nightingale masks

Nurses 1982

UK Nurses in action during the 1982 12% pay Campaign

Nurses Uniforms 1938

Nurses uniforms and prices 1938

Click on picture to enlarge

Local Pay - 1996

Local pay is the only way forward for nurses, according to to the health secretary. Stephen Dorrell told the Conservative Medical Society fringe meeting

"Pay should not be fixed in Whitehall, but be a core function of local manangement at local level is somtething we regard as instrinsic to the local flexible health service we have developed"

Stephen Dorrell Conservative Party conference October 1996

article Nursing Times 16 October 1996

Nurses Red Eyes Poster - Unison 1996

Unison poster launched October 1996 - a take on the Blair "demon eyes" campaign

launched at Bourenmouth and top with Unison nurses at University College London Hospital

Under paid, over worked and under stress No wounder 25,000 nurses quit the NHS last year  - UNISON Nurses

COHSE Cornwall Banner

COHSE Health Care Union banner

Looks like 1979 pay campaign