Saturday, December 01, 2007

Workhouse Dance at gun point

Made A Prisoner

Bawnboy Workhouse Master

Sinn Feinners Sunday dance The Bawnboy Sinn Fein Club showed its power on Sunday evening, when a body of men proceeded to the Workhouse in the village, and having made a prisoner of the Workhouse Master, held a dance in the boys schoolroom in the institution, contrary to a notice already given that the dance would not be permitted.

It appears that at a meeting of the Guardians held on the 8th inst, it was decided that permission be given to the local Sinn Feiners for the entertainment.

The decision of the Guardians having being communicated to the Local Government Board, the latter body wrote to the clerk of the Guardians was illegal and threatened an injunction in the superior courts.

The Master of the Workhouse, hearing this at once communicated with the secretary of the local Sinn Fein Club, stating that the dance would not be permitted.

Despite this an advance guard of the Republicans made their way to the office of the Master Mr P. McTeigue and imprisoned him there until the crowds for the dance, which numbered over 200 had assembled and taken possession of the boys schoolroom, when the prisoner was released

Tyrone Impartial Reporter 18th October 1917


At Strabane Workhouse in February 1922.
Five or six masked (IRA) men entered the Workhouse and set fire to it in order to stop the local Dorset Regiment occupying it.

8 Hour Day - Nurses 1920

15 May 1920

The Corporation of Dublin, which makes grants to various hospitals in the city, has decided to make such grants conditional upon the establishment of an eight hours’day for nurses.

In this connection several medical contemporaries take exception to this decision on the ground that in the case of a nurse work and duty are not co-extensive, though no doubt she is liable to answer a bell or call at any moment.”

That may be the case with private nurses, but we have yet to meet the hospital nurse who spends “ much of her time on duty sitting down,” There is a very wrong conception prevalent of the way in which hospital nurses work, It is usually at full

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Carles Martinez - Historty of UNISON/COHSE SW Surrey

Gratitude paid to retiring union leader

HEALTH Care workers across South West Surrey have paid a fitting farewell to a retiring union leader whose 30 year tenure as UNISON branch secretary is believed to be unrivalled in British trade union history.

Carles Martinez has been branch secretary of local health care workers UNISON since 1977 as well as its predecessor known as the COHSE, Confederation of Health Service Employees, a landmark which prompted a special thank you from the Prime Minister.

Martinez was presented with a framed letter from the Prime Minister at the gathering at the Mandolay Hotel in Guildford on Wednesday 14th November 2007 which recorded his personnel thanks and that of Labour movement for his efforts on behalf of members and the NHS. The event was also an opportunity to receive plaudits from a number of his colleagues and associates who have worked with him over the years.

“Under Carles Martinez’s leadership the union had became a formidable force for good, a key partner in delivering first class health care services locally , and a branch that delivered for its members,” said UNISON regional officer Michael Walker. “The membership of this union and the community we serve owe him a great debt of gratitude.

“He was never afraid to speak his mind on behalf of union members and challenge the prevailing attitudes, championing equality and opportunity for all staff.”

Martinez was born in 1939 in Barcelona and was educated at the Eccole Francaise. He fled Franco's dictatorship for London in December 1963. He contracted TB and was sent to King George V Sanatorium, Hydestile, where he later secured a job in 1964, later moving to Guildford’s Royal Surrey County Hospital took over the branch secretaryship from Les Bennett who had in turn been branch secretary since 1948.
Mr Leslie Bennett of Hascombe was born at Nursecombe in 1920 and worked at St Thomas's hospital, Milford as an Assistant Bath Attendant, he was for many years a Hascombe parish councillor.

The previous Branch Secretary was Harry Stock a Bath Attendant at St Thomas's. Milford, who was the founding Branch Secretary of the union then known as the Hospital & Welfare Services Union from it's inauguration with seven members in July 1943 until Les Bennett took over in 1948. When Harry Stock returned to London. Don Donnellon a pioneering theatre technician was also key in establishing the union at St Thomas's Hospital, Milford

This unique partnership of two branch sectaries since the establishment of the NHS is believed to be unrivalled in British trade union history.

The Surrey union had been originally established by staff from St Thomas’s hospital, London when they were evacuated after the German Luftwaffe had destroyed much of St Thomas’s in September 1940.

One of Les Bennetts first acts as branch secretary was to highlight the plight of student nurses at Hydestile who in 1948 were forced after long shifts to pick onions at 1s 5d an hour for a local market gardener because there pay was insufficient to pay train fare home to London .

Carles Martinez was initially elected Branch Chairman in March 1968 and in 1977 Branch Secretary. During the 30 years, Martinez has built it up to be one of the largest branches with 3,000 members who work in the “acute” sector (over 75% of whom were nursing staff) and has never faced a challenge for his position as secretary.

He has worked and campaigned with politicians of all political persuasions throughout the years to ensure that his members and the interest of local NHS were best realised, illustrated most recently during the campaign to save the Royal Surrey County Hospital.

“Carles Martinez had built a reputation not only locally but nationally for the wholehearted commitment he had shown to his members interests and to the that of our National Health Service,” said UNISON assistant general secretary, Bob Abberley. “The branch had been very fortunate to have a man of such high calibre at the helm for the last 30 years and he will be greatly missed by all who know him, but we can assure him that the foundations he has laid will continue to be built upon.

At the end of the evening Mr Martinez thanked his many friends, particularly Les Bennett and thanked his wife Tatjanana, until recently a senior sister at RSCH for her continued support.

Addition to Surrey Advertiser Article

Left Wing Medical Journals

Medicine Today & Tomorrow,

The only political medical journal in Britain

linked to Socialist Health Association

first published January 1952

Issued bi-monthly price 9d first published

other publications included the Communist Parties "Marxists in Medicine" based at 27 Pearman Street, London SE1

Friday, November 09, 2007

John Kelly-Chandler


John Edward Kelly-Chandler, Regional Organiser, died in service on Tuesday 9 October 2007.

John was a Regional Organiser in the Greater London Region since 1991 covering health and local government branches. In recent years he has had responsibility for the South East London Health branches.

John was diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago and had been receiving treatment during the past 12 months. Despite gruelling treatment he managed to maintain a positive and courageous attitude throughout. He was on holiday in his favourite place in Italy when he passed away.

Prior to working for UNISON, John's working life spanned numerous occupations from flour milling to merchant marine, from baker to selling cosmetics, from shoe salesman to the Elecricity Generating Board

John was a leading lay activist in NALGO’s electricity section, a Shop Steward at West ham Power Station, He rose to become the secretary of the CEGB Headquarters branch and took a leading role in the FUSE campaign against the privatisation of the electricity industry. He was elected to NALGO’s National Electricity Committee, eventually becoming its Chair and was also a member of NALGO’s NEC.

He lead his union colleagues through the convulsions of privatisation and attempts to build solidarity at the CEGB for the Miners in the great 1984-1985 dispute.

In 1991 John was appointed as a union (NALGO) regional officer, a position he held until his death.

Born in Hastings on the 11th November 1947, adopted by Hartlepool (becoming a staunch Hartlepool United FC Fan) lifelong resident of London, latterly Charlton.

Buried in his beloved Ravello, Italy.A memorial service was held at Caxton Hall, London to celebrate his life on Saturday 10th November 2007 at which the regional head of health for London Chris Remmington stated
"John's politic's was very simple, unsophisticated and non-sectarian.
Members first,
build the union,
always recognise that the future belongs to the next generation - so don't get in the way - build gateways not obstacles,no false labels of left and right, at the close of each day be clear that an advance has occurred in the ideas of progress, of collective strength, of humanity, of unity."

John was a much respected and loved member of the regional staff and will be missed by all who knew and worked with him.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

NHS Rally 3 November 2007

NHS Rally, London, 3 November 2007

March from Embankment to Trafalgar Square

Carles, Duncan from SW Surrey and John Gray from Tower Hamlets helping out with St George's
Hospital Banner

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Sackers Charter 1982

Stephen Halpern (Health Service Journal)

Senior trade union officials have accused 'maverick managers' in the NHS of using the DHSS (Department of Health & Social Security) memo to regional personnel officers on managers and union activity as a justification for clamping down on trade union officials.

The accusations were made by Nupe officials at a press conference held to explain the union's position on the dismissal of deputy head porter Conway Xavier, from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Last week Mr Xavier's appeal to the hospital Board of Governors was dismissed. A planned picket at the hospital on the day of the appeal was cancelled by the union because of lack of support.

Mr Xavier was dismissed for neglect of essential duties', unauthorised absences from duty, disregard for his management responsibilities and failure to 'behave with commitment or loyalty to local management'.

Nupe claims that his dismissal was the result of a campaign of victimisation against Mr Xavier and that tills is being extended to other union officials at Great Ormond Street and associated hospitals.

At the press conference Nupe divisional officer. Harry Barker, said he was 'worried about the repercussions of the memo.

He added that the memo was without doubt the background to Mr Xavier's case.

He also claimed that health service managers didn't support the use of the memo and also the way in which Mr Xavier's case was handled.

"We are conscious that many senior administrators in London are concerned at the way the management handled the situation", he said.

Mr Barker and other Nupe officials said that although most NHS managers didn't feel the need for guidance to deal with conflict of loyalty between management and trade union responsibility some 'maverick managers' were using the memo to deal with trade union activity.

The Hospital Administrator at Great Ormond Street, Austin Lythe, strenuously denied the memo had in any way been never ' been any conflict of the memo had in any way been connected with Mr Xavier's case.

He said there was no victimisation campaign against trade union officials at the hospital and he hadn't even heard of the memo until after the question of Mr Xaviers conduct was being considered

Mr Lythe said there was no reason why industrial relations at the hospital shouldn't be excellent. He hoped that the hospital would be able to get on with its job of looking after sick children.

While Nupe's accusations against the management of Great Ormond Street are not supported, their claim that most managers do not feel the need for central support and guidance is accurate.

Regional personnel officers are believed to have told the DHSS that guidance was unnecessary and this view is backed by Martin Beardwell, chairman of the National Association of Health Service Personnel Officers, who told the Journal:

'The NHS has years of experience of trade union within the management structure. theres never been sny conflict of interest that cant be coped with Most personnel officers in the NHS are members of a trade union and never have any difficulty negotiating with members of their own union" he added

Mr Beardwell described the type of guidance referred to in the memo' as 'quite superfluous'.

Since the existence of the memo was first publicly revealed by the Journal on 12 December, it has caused a storm of controversy in several areas, with the exception of NHS managers for whom it was meant.

Shadow health spokesman, Gwynneth Dunwoody. has raised the matter in Parliament and Secretary of State, Patrick Jenkin, has said he refuses to withdraw it.

The memo has also caused a storm at COHSE, where the assistant press secretary, Chris Perry, left his job in protest at the union's response to the memo, General secretary, Albert Spanswick, decided to protest privately to Patrick Jenkin rather than making the matterpublic.

circa 1982-83

The "Sackers Charter" as the memo was referred to was the result of some managerial staff such as those in South West London who became involved with the campaign to save st Benedict's Hospital.

Two COHSE officers were suspended over the alleged leaking of the "Sackers Charter" to the press

see also articles in Daily Mirror and Hospital worker

Conway Xavier was a prominent Afro-Caribbean NUPE health activists member of the Communist Party but later joined the NCP

Britannia Hospital (1982)

Britannia Hospital
Film Review
COHSE Shop Steward, Willesden Ambulance Station, London Ambulance Service

Britannia hospital, the new film from Lindsay Anderson who made "If", is a satirical
attack on the society of the 1980s.

It is set in a decaying hospital which is due to receive a royal visit. Outside is a picket of
hospital workers, shown by the film as completely callous.

Inside the star attraction is a research centre, in which a mad professor is attempting, Frankenstein like, to build a new human being. When the royal visit finally takes place, the mob outside erupts, the Special patrol group (Riot Police) are brought in and everything seems set for a violent final scene as in "if" But the battle between the classes is suddenly ended by the intervention of the professor.

He Invites the demonstrators to sit beside royalty In his lecture theatre. In a brilliant
speech he outlines the way in which capitalist society is falling apart and presents his new human being as the solution.

The film leaves you with a mixture of emotions, more quest ions than answers, wondering how much of it was serious and how much a wind up.

The film echoes the demoralisation and increasing bitterness of Thatcher's Britain.
Poverty Is contrasted with the wealth of the professor's research centre, funded by a Japanese pharmaceutical company.

The media are characterised by an investigative reporting team who get stoned on magic mushrooms while watching in awe and wild laughter scenes from Vietnam and the Brixton riots.
The bourgeoisie are portrayed by the hospital administrator, who becomes increasingly desperate and, in the end, is prepared to kill to protect what he holds dear. The outcome is unclear.

Does the new technology of the research centre reconcile the class antagonism? Or does It merely make the dream of a socialist future practical?
Anderson was one of the Angry Young Men of the British cinema in the mid 1950s, sparking a revolution akin to that of John Osborne, George Devine and others in the theatre.

Has he now become as bitter and twisted as Osborne? Or is he, as puts it, simply 'a satirist' and a 'frustrated
romantic'? The fact that the film has been hyped to the hilt by EMI and pushed on to general release with almost frantic haste begs a question. Is it a coincidence that a film showing hospital pickets as inhuman and animal-like should be promoted in the middle of the NHS pay dispute?

You must decide if it is worth seeing.


Britannia Hospital, was a viciously anti union film as Anderson has had admitted.

The Film is actually based upon events during the anti private patient campaign at Hammersmith hospital and Charring Cross and the respective NUPE and COHSE branch Secretaries (
Jamie Fleming and Ester Brookstone) .

The truth was that low paid ancillary staff in these teaching hospitals had been treated as the lowest of the low by the Consultants and medical staff for years, by the late 1970's they had had enough and hitting the Consultants private patients was one way of getting back at them and securing some dignity (as well as making a point about equal access to health care).

The Hospital Consultants fought any attack on their lucrative private work with all the power they could muster, and smashed those involved in the anti private patients campaign, by lobbying at the highest government levels and regular denouncing the unions in the right wing press, There actions would ultimately lead to the contracting out (privatisation) of many ancillary services 1980s (and the filthy wards we have today)

Tony Ventham was then the acceptable face of the SWP in COHSE and generally well respected, but probably like the rest of us underestimated the anti union message of this film. Tony later became a lawyer.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kick Over The Statues


All over Eastern Europe statues of Lenin are being taken off their pedestals (1999), dismantled and hauled off to be cut up. It is in the same vein that the nursing profession must, as we enter the new millennium, start to exorcise the myth of Florence Nightingale.

Not necessarily because Florence Nightingale was a very bad person, but because the impact of her legacy or more correctly the interpretation of that legacy has held the nursing profession back too long.

The Nightingale myth had from it’s earliest days been appropriated by the nursing hierarchy and the founders of the Royal College of Nursing who colluded with them, to use it to sell any vocational, self sacrificing ideal required for the good of the service and not the good of nursing.

As a result of the Nightingale myth, the leadership of nursing in Britain for the best part of this century has stressed "vocation" and subordination to the medical profession and cast nursing as somehow non political. We cannot progress until we break from the yoke of the Nightingale myth.

We must ask ourselves as nurses why it is that the medical professional still dominates health care. Why very few nurses are in the political arena (it is only with the 1997 General Election that we have had nurses elected to parliament). And why nursing trade unionism has not made more of an impact. A consequence of these failings has been that nurses remain professionally impotent and nurses pay lags behind that of other "organised" professions in the UK and nurses pay in other western nations.

The failure of British nursing to meet its potential, I would contend, is the ever present Florence Nightingale, whose views, whether based on myths or reality, has stopped nursing from progressing into a profession in its own right.

What is clear, is that the British establishment sought from the very origins of modern nursing to sanitise nursing, and ensure that its heroine would be acceptable: a white, English, middle class, protestant women. Florence Nightingale fulfilled this role admirably, unlike Irish catholic nurses such as Joanna Bridgeman and Jamaican nurses like Mary Seacole who made an equally important contribution to nursing during the Crimea War. Neither of these has been officially credited for their efforts.

It was Joanna Bridgeman who developed the system of nursing and management that Florence Nightinglae adopted, while the efforts of the black Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole in the Crimea were cold shouldered. What is equally interesting to note is that it was probably the Quaker, Elizabeth Fry, who has greatest claim to the title founder of modern nursing with her pioneering work at St John's hospital by her Institution of Nursing Sisters, a number of years before Florence Nightingale embarked upon her endeavours. So maybe international nurse’s day should be celebrated on her birthday, the 21st May.

Once the Nightingale myth and her status as a Saint had been confirmed by the British establishment, Florence Nightingale set about turning out her robotic acolytes from the St Thomas School of Nursing from 1860 onwards, soon capturing the role of matrons in most major hospitals.

Ehrenreich & English encapsulated this well in following quote:

‘Training emphasised character, not skills. The finished product, the Nightingale nurse, was simply the ideal lady …absolved of reproductive responsibilities. To the doctor, she brought the wifely virtue of absolute obedience. To the patient, she brought the selfless devotion of a mother. To the lower level hospital employees, she brought the firm but kindly discipline of a household manager accustomed to dealing with servants’.

Abel-Smith sates:

"The power (of matrons) was reinforced by the para-military organisation of the nursing staff and the rigid discipline imposed in the training schools. As Miss Nightingale said rather ominously "No good ever comes of anyone interfering between the head of nursing establishment and her nurses. It is fatal to discipline". The control of the matrons over her nurses was to play a crucial role in future attempts to enrol nurses in professional organisations or trade unions".

No wonder Ann Widdecombe (supported by Christine Hancock) called for the return of the Matron at last year’s Tory party conference.

Florence Nightingale supported the subordinate role of nurses to doctors, opposed registration of nurses, three year training of nurses, did not see mental health nurses as part of nursing, and had questionable success at her hospital in the Crimea, she also turned her back on the fine history of lay women healers, not to mention her opposition to women speaking in public..

Nurses are increasingly beginning to challenge the Nightingale myth. Today’s nurses, especially our UNISON nursing students are much more questioning, much more involved in campaigning and much more willing to stand up for their rights and pushing the bounderies of our professional role. This development can only be a good thing as nursing enters the new millennium.

Nurses of the world unite you have nothing to lose but your chains

By Michael Walker UNISON Nursing student Officer and Wendy Wheeler RGN RHV


Chris Hart Behind the mask

Jane Salvage the politics of Nursing

Barbara Ehrenreich & Deirdre English Witches, Midwives & Nurses

B.Abel Smith A history of the nursing profession

Katherine Williams Sarah Gamp to Florence Nightingale - Rewriting Nursing History

It (nursing) started from a Quaker lady whose name has hitherto been almost exclusively claimed by prisoners, but she (Elizabeth Fry) must now be accepted as the founder of sick nursing BMA Journal 19 June 1897

By Michael Walker & Wendy Wheeler 1999 (Nursing Times)

see also UNISON Health Conference debate 1999

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Moez Montani - COHSE Central Middx Hospital - Brent

Moez Montani - Brent

Region 6 mourns the death of a true friend and colleague, Moez Motani, at the age of 30
years. He had been Secretary of Brent COHSE Branch for the past 11 years. Moez was an ardent fighter against privatisation in the Brent district and his efforts, together with others, have prevented, so far, privatisation of ancillary services in that district. He always campaigned actively to prevent the closure of hospitals in the district, for example Neasden.

He enlisted the support of the residents of Brent, the community health council, and Brent Health Emergency in the fight to prevent cuts in local health services.
He had suffered from birth with Thalassaemia, a terminal disease, and also he was in constant pain and required frequent hospitalisation, but he continued to fulfill his role as an active COHSE Branch Secretary, always defending the interests of his members.

He was honoured by the Region in January 1985 by being awarded the Harry Short gold
badge, which is presented for outstanding achievement. His courage and determination was an example to us all and he will be sadly missed.

(Tribute by Ernest A. Brooke, Regional Secretary, North West Thames and Oxford Region)

Moez was a good man, good COHSE Branch Secretary a hospital technician at Central Middlesex , a Muslim from Indonesia

1982 Coventry - London 12% Bike Ride


health workers are biking to downing street as part of the action week, starting today 40 Coventry health service workers will carry their protest against the government's pay policy by bike to London.

They will leave Coventry today, calling en route at Banbury, Oxford, Hillingdon and arrive in Central London midday Friday.

Among the bike's are six tandems. The riders include nurses, ancillary and maintenance wor-
kers as well as professional and technical- staff drawn from Coventry's hospitals.

They will deliver a petition to No. 10 Downing Street and present a bill for £325,000 to Health Minister Norman Fowler.

This is the amount the Coventry District Health Authority would have rto find to meet the government's health service wage formula. It has already overspent on its budget.

"The truth is," says Lloyd Randall, secretary of the NUPE hospitals branch in the city,
"there is not a 6 per cent offer.

It is just 4 per cent and an offer to cannibalise the service to meet the other 2 per cent."


In addition to being divisive. the Tory government tactics will also mean the loss of up to 80
jobs in the city's hospitals.

The bikers will link up with local health service co-ordinating committees on their journey.
They are offerins to join picket lines at hospitals and speak at meetings. But they also hope
that other trade unionists will turn out in force to greet them.

They will be joined in London bv strikers whose seven week action has reduced the central sterile supplies depot to emergency only.

Nurses at the outpatients department oi the Coventry and Warwick Hospital, as well as
maintenance and boilerhouse workers in Walsgrave and other hospitals also plan to impose
sanctions in the coming week.

A meeting in Birmingham ot local health service union co- ordinating committees support-
ed calls from Coventry for the TUC to sharpen up the action on health service pay.


A resolution adopted "calls on the TUC health service committee to support a call for an ultimatum for an all-out strike from September 1 by all TUC health service unions, if an im-
proved offer is not made or if the dispute is not referred to arbitration."

Another resolution urges the TUC not to accept any offer which is not fully funded by central government. To do so, it says, would mean accepting cuts in the service.

There is; also a strong feeling that local co-ordinating committees should have more discretion over implementing accident and emergency cover. The TUC's code of conduct is seen as being so wide as to be ineffective in some areas.

There is a call for a review and a tightening up of the TUC's emergency cover procdures.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Islands in the Sun 1982

Islands in the Sun

Outside Royal Surrey County Hospital (RSCH) permanent COHSE picket during the 1982 pay campaign.

The island later acquired a Palm tree and the 10mph sign became 12%

Co-ordinated by Carles, Lesley, Graham
and Michael

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fleet Street Solidarity Strike 1982

Full COHSE support for Sean Geraghty

Full Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE The health care union)) backing has been pledged to electricians' leader Sean Geraghty who faces a fine and heavy legal costs after his members held up the Fleet Street printing presses on 11th August 1982 in support of the NHS pay campaign during the 9-13th protest week of action.

Sean Geraghty, secretary of the London Press Branch of the Electricians Union (ETU), was fined £350 for contempt of court and ordered to pay court costs after his 1,300 members disobeyed an injunction obtained by the Newspaper Publishers' Association (NPA) to stop the threatened twenty-four hour strike on 11 August. 1982.

COHSE has offered to pay the fine and contribute towards the costs, expected to be a massive £10,000, incurred after a court appearance lasting only a few minutes.

The NPA brought the case against Mr Sean Geraghty for breaching the injunction. Under the 1980 Employment Act, the courts could have sent him to jail and he still faces prison if he fails to pay the fine by October. The electricians' branch has yet to decide whether the fine should be met.

Hundreds of NHS workers marched from St Bartholomew's Hospital in London to the High Court in New Fetter Lane on 13 August 1982, the day of the hearing.COHSE members from Regions 5, 6, and 8 were well represented both outside the court and at the Department of Health & Social Security’s London headquarters at the Elephant and Castle, where demonstrators joined the vigil organised by London health staff for the week long protest.

Although COHSE initially expressed concern that the Fleet Street action would distract publicity from the health staffs' case, COHSE General Secretary Albert Spanswick described the electricians' stoppaqe as a wonderful gesture of solidarity' and warned at serious action' would result if Mr Geraghty was imprisoned


Sean Geraghty addressing supporters outside the New Fetter Lane High Court;

The threat under new anti trade union laws to jail Sean Geraghty, led to a surge of support for the campaign. Unquestionably, had he been jailed, the industrial action in response would have significant from the unions.

The diminutive, softly spoken, 46 year old Irish man. Sean Geraghty, who worked at the Daily Mirror became a household name, celebrity and working class hero overnight.

However, the Tories anti trade union Law had been especially drafted to ensure that their could be no Martyrs, for the movement to organise around.

The right wing Electricians Union were also not happy with this act of solidarity and tried to break up the branch ad discipline Geraghty.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Nic Cicutti

Branch Secretary reinstated

A COHSE Branch Secretary whose dismissal caused concern at COHSE Conference in June that he had been victimised for taking part in the NHS pay campaign, has qot his job back.

Nic Cicutti, secretary of Essex Hall Branch in Colchester, was reinstated as a second-year student nurse at the mental handicap hospital after an internal appeal.

Now Nic says he owes his job to the many COHSE members and officers who gave their support
particularly Regional Secretary Keith Taylor, who represented him at the appeal in late 1982.

Nic then a prominent member of the Socialist Workers Party, Hospital worker now a high profile journalist i believe,

Nic states I worked for 15 years at The Independent, the Financial Times and as a freelance. In a previous life I trained as a nurse and worked in the NHS for almost seven years. Before that I washed dishes and was a school cleaner

Thursday, July 26, 2007

BBQ Springfield Hospital 2007

Yes this is local UNISON officials at South West London Mental Health (Springfield Hospital, Wandworth), lapping up the sun at the annual staff and patients. BBQ July 2007

Nice one !

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

1979 Low pay Strike

The 1979 low pay strike

The first three months on 1979 saw the bitterly fought low pay strikes in the public sector. As action by hospital workers, school cleaners and dinner ladies, dustmen and other local authority workers spread in support of their demand for a £60 minimum wage and the 35 hour week, the media vented their wrath in a campaign of unparalleled hysteria. NUPE was labelled a 'fascist union' by the Daily Mail, and the extreme right-wing leader of the Electricians' Union, Frank Chapple, called hospital workers 'terrorists' in a Sunday Express article.

From the beginning, the public sector union leaders refused to call all-out strike
action — instead leaving it to local areas and sections to take whatever action they saw fit. The inevitable result was that the strike was very patchy. In the best organised areas — for example among local authority workers in Hackney and in
Camden (both in London) — there was determined action which led to employers making concessions in Camden, they won the whole claim

But overall, the outcome was disappointing for many of the workers involved. The union leaders recommended acceptance of a 9% offer, plus £1 on account for full-time workers pending the Clegg Commission 'comparability' study, and nothing on shorter hours.

Low paid and part-time women in particular didn't gain much from the strike; the Clegg Commission recommendations gave the lowest grades (90% of whom are women) the lowest rises. Infact, the interests of women were very badly represented in the claim itself, which took no account in its demand for a 35 hour week that many women in the public sector are part time workers who already work less than 40 hours, and receive very low hourly rates. Roughly 75% of the membership of NUPE (the union with the largest number of members involved in the action) is women, but they are totally under-represented at all levels of the union. There's no doubt that this weakened the struggle.

Other divisions also took their toll: 'One of the worst problems we've got is inter-unions rivalry especially between NUPE and the G&M. In our hospital we held a meeting last week of all four unions to try and stop these squabbles. And lack of information is a real problem. There could be a strike down the road and we'd only hear about it after it was over.' (Margaret Carlin, NUPE nurse, Glasgow Stobhill Hospital, quoted in Socialist Worker, 10/2/79)

Although there is a growing shop stewards' movement within NUPE and the public sector generally, this inter union rivalry and the lack of national and local co-ordination resulted in the better organised areas remaining isolated from each other, and unable to support the weaker areas. And this absence of a strong nationally co-ordinated movement of the rank and file made it much easier for union leaders like Alan Fisher to brush aside calls for all-out strike action.

It also meant that there was no organised force within the strike putting over
socialist answers to the real worries facing many of the low paid public sector
The most pressing of these was the fear that if the employers conceded
the full claim, it would lead to a massive loss of jobs — especially part-time jobs - harder work, and worse services.

Organising to Win – Big Flame
217 Wavertree Road, Liverpool 7

WW1 Red Cross Nurses

Red Cross Heroines who will ride to the battle front

The War Illustrated 19th September 1914

When there is a lull in the screaming of the shells, and the last embers of a battle are being extinguished, it is then that the Red Cross heroes and heroines come out to assist those who had suffered in the fight. Brave men and women they are, taking their lives in their hands, and risking the stray bullets that fly around, in order to cheer the. last moments of dying, men, or bear the living to the shelter of a hospital.

The State, of course, provides aid for our sick and wounded warriors, but the British Red Cross Society supplements it, organising and supplying extra hospital accommodation, nursing and medical service, and all the little luxuries and comforts which mean so much to the invalid on his bed of pain.

The Duke of Devonshire has generously; loaned that substantial-looking building, in Piceadilly, London—Devonshire House—to the British Red Cross Society as a
temporary headquarters for the organising staff, many of whom are voluntary workers. Queen Alexandra and Lord Rothschild, are heading an appeal for funds to carry on the noble work and patriots by the thousand have subscribed. In addition to the gifts of money and personal service, many people throughout the country, have offered to accommodate wounded soldiers in their homes.

Motor-cars have also been temporarily presented to the Society by their owners.
Mrs. St. Clair Stobart, whose portrait appears opposite, desired to organise a Red Cross Hospital in Brussels, but she was arrested by Germans, and nearly shot as a spy. After many hardships she reached Holland and safety.

Mrs St Clair Stobart,
founded the Women''s Sick and Wounded Convoy Corps that worked with the Belgian Army, also worked for providing health care to civilians in France and Serbia during the war,
dispensaries for civilians

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Labour Party Ambulance

If it's Wednesday it must be Wigan

We had a good day in... What was that place, Tom? 'I don't remember, John.' 'Well, it was Thursday, it must have been...' Tom Church and John Hart only met last November (1982).

Since then they've travelled more than 12,000 miles together round Britain in a converted ambulance as the spearhead of the
Labour Party's NHS campaign.

They've visited 206 places, often starting at 9 am, finishing only at the close of evening meetings, sometimes seven days a week. The ambulance was designed to take the Labour Party's campaign to the grassroots.

The aim was to provide flexibility for local work, and to maintain a coherent national link between what could otherwise have been a series ofdesparate fights to save local services.
It was also designed to provide a strong visual aid for publicity, although this was not the top priority.

It was clear from the start that if the party was to put over socialist arguments for a nationalised health service-as distinct from the liberal sentiment that the NHS is 'a good thing'-it could not rely on the media
True the ambulance had its problems.

In the North it was moved on by a traffic warden for
parking on double yellow lines. It was banned from one town centre by the Tory council. In another an irate shopkeeper threw a bucket offishwater into it. For Tom and John the tour has been a lesson in political campaigning. Early on they discovered that what the public really wanted was information. Privatisation was an issue which particularly aroused public interest. People were concerned about the contracting out of ancillary services as well as the long waiting lists for NHS treatment.

The two drivers tested the ground in Tory strongholds, and found that on a popular issue like the NHS, they could at least talk to people and raise some

Whether such a populist approach could actually win votes is another question. At any rate the party's Euro Unit is using an open-topped double decker bus for its campaign; and
have you heard what's planned for the anti-cruise campaign... ?

Sally Coetzee
New Socialist March/April 1984

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Kingston Hospital

This is Ms Helen Martin (nee Weatherley) active in Kingston Hospital.
former COHSE NEC member
and Kingston Hospital Branch Secretary of UNISON

Described by her regional officer as "punctual and well organised"

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Make Budget Day NHS Day 1988

COHSE called a Make Budget Day NHS Day as part of the 1988 campaign, it was later supported by the Labour Party

Ironically, the Conservatives have called for the same in 2007

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dorset Asylum -NAWU

Fred Guppy Dorset Asylum

If you look at any National Asylum Workers' Union Magazine for 1910 or 1918 you will see that Fred Guppy lived at Church Lane, Charminster, Dorset. He continued to do so until his death.

Fred Guppy was founder-member of the Dorset Branch. In a recent conversation he told me how the first branch meetings were held on a bridge some distance from the hospital, how in later years the meetings were held in the hospital with lookouts for fear of surprise by the medical superintendent.

Fred Guppy was branch secretary for many many years. He was a JP and for 50 years a member of Dorchester Rural District Council; he was chairman of the council for five years. He was also Chairman of Charminster Parish Council for 37 years.

He was recently awarded the MBE, a few days later he was dead. (1969)

G.N.N Branch secretary

Dorset Branch.

COHSE Journal October 1969

1974 Nurses Action

COHSE and NUPE nurses on the march in 1974, the location looks like Epsom town centre. This campaign led to best pay rises ever under Halsbury (arguably nurses secured better rises under Clinical Grading campaign in 1988)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

COHSE Banner

COHSE Banner 1964

The first national banner of COHSE was produced by patients and staff at Darenth Park Hospital, Dartford in 1964

E R Harmes COHSE Regional secretary

Monday, March 05, 2007

1st March 2007 NHS Together

Dateline Kingston Hospital, Surrey, 1st March 2007

NHS Consultants, Chaplin's, nurses, student nurses, admin staff join the lunch time protest outside Kingston Hospital.

Against cuts and closures

Nora Pearce UNISON branch Secretary and Dave Prentis General Secretary

1970 Nurses Pay Demonstation

COHSE's famous Fleet Street nurses branch and Banstead COHSE branch, off to the Elephant & Castle, then the Department of Health headquarters.

To attend a COHSE rally
13th January 1970 on nurses pay

Other COHSE branches in attendance included,Leavesden, Leybourne Grove, Park Prewitt, Whitecroft (IOW), Tooting Bec, Oxford, Goodmayes, Warley, Whipps Cross, Claybury, St Bernards (Ealing),

COHSE Leopardstown Park Hospital, Dublin

Leopardstown Hospital, Dublin

It is a little known fact that, COHSE had a branch of the union in Dublin for many years.

The COHSE branch was based at Leopardstown Park Hospital, a British War Pensions hospital located at Blackrock, Co Dublin opened in 1917.

The building is large mansion house in 100 acres of grounds, given by the Powers (Whisky) family.

The hospital was established to care for injured Irish soilders in the British Army. It was administered by trustees of the British Department of Health and hospital staff were paid British NHS Whitley pay rates

The COHSE branch was established in 1948 by Jim Doyle a ward assistant (later ambulance driver) with Tim Canty a nurse (who moved to nurse in England) with two other members called Ball and Byrne.
In the late 1960's the branch had 60 members and Jim Doyle Branch Chairman, Jack Brennan Branch Secretary, Sean Whelan Vice Chairmen In the grounds of the hospital patients still wore the old "hospital blues" familiar to hospitals in WW1

In 1979 the hospital was transfered to a local Hospital Board (whick includes a UK representative) and still carers for injured soilders

Picture Left to right Jim Doyle, Sean Whelan. Jack Brennan (October 1969)

The National Asylum Workers Union had members in Southern Ireland until 1917 (branches left to form own Irish Mental hospital workers Union, later ITGWU, later SIPTU)

Bill Dunn

Bill Dunn COHSE (1927-1983)

Bill Dunn COHSE Hanwell Ambulanceman was born in Liverpool on 8th March 1927. he died of cancer on St Patrick’s Day 17th March 1983 at the age of 56.

Anyone who met Bill could not fail to admire his courage and fighting spirit. There were many occasions during his life when he needed a considerable amount of both. One of a family of six, he was orphaned by the age of three and spent his childhood in Dr Barnardo's Homes or with foster parents.

It was during the time that he lived in Dr Barnardo's that he first learned about socialism and the trade union movement from no less a person than one of Labour's first women MPs, Bessie Braddock, who was a regular visitor.

Bill joined the Royal Marines at the age of sixteen, under a special arrangement with Dr Barnardo's and saw active service in various parts of the world during his fourteen years' service. He enjoyed the comradeship but hated the system. He had a strong dislike for what he regarded as petty rules and regulations. In fact, while in the marines he was promoted to the rank of lance corporal no less than six times, but, as Bill put it, 'I got busted every time'.

Bill suffered further personal tragedies during the war when he lost one brother on active service and another in a submarine accident in Liverpool Bay.

After leaving the armed services, Bill worked for a time with the Shell Oil company, traveling all over the world. Then he worked in a number of jobs before joining the London Ambulance Service in 1968. Such was his energy that, on his leaving an agent job to work for a plant hire firm, three men were taken on in his place.

Bill met his wife, Maureen, in1964 They were married in 1966 and had two daughters, Alison, now sixteen, and Claire, now thirteen.

I first met Bill when he attended the No. 6 Regional Council meeting in October, 1975, as delegate for Park Royal Branch. Within a few months he had formed a branch of COHSE at Hanwell Ambulance Station, Ealing, London which went on to become one of the biggest branches in the region. Bill was elected Regional Vice-Chairman in 1978, and Regional Chairman one year later, in 1979, a position he held until his death.

He was totally committed to socialism and the trade union movement, and made it clear that as Regional Chairman he expected to be involved with branches' problems. He travelled all over the region, giving support to members who needed it.

He was also active in the CND movement and took a special interest in mentally handicapped children.

It was absolutely typical of Bill to fight his last fight with the same courage as he had fought all his life — his way, head on. He refused to hide or run away. He attended every rally organised in the region during the last pay campaign,

although obviously he was in considerable pain and had difficulty in breathing. I remember suggesting to Bill on one occasion that I should hire a taxi to take him to the rallying point rather than walk. I will not repeat exactly what his reply was, suffice to say my Regional Chairman left me in no doubt that he intended to walk.

It is easy to feel despondent about the loss of someone who was so strong and seemed so indestructible, but to give up the struggle for all the things Bill believed in is just unthinkable. Rest in peace, brother. Your fight goes on.

(Tribute by Pat McGinley,
North West Thames & Oxford Regional Secretary.)

Bill Dunn was one of the most important COHSE lay activist and showed great leadership especially, during the 1979 Ambulance Strike when his house and car were attacked by those opposed to the strike and he was also attacked by those on the ultra left, who condemned his insistence on “Emergency Cover” during the strike.

His support for nuclear disarmament at national COHSE conference was key in securing COHSE’s conference support

A Trophy the Mallinson – Dunn Trophy is awarded annual, since 1984, to an ambulance man or women for recognition of their work in COHSE now UNISON

A garden at the front of Hanwell Ambulance Station is dedicated to his memory

Note on COHSE Hanwell/Ealing branch

The Hanwell branch under Bill, included Ealing and Hillingdon Hospital at one time in the late 1970s. Hillingdon Hospital not reforming a branch until 1982 under Mike Lee a COHSE nursing Auxiliary (who later went onto the Football Association and European Football association fame) Then Michael Walker 1983-1991) and now Florence Portugal (1992-

Marion Way (NUPE Ambulance steward at Hillingdon, London Ambulance Service first women convenor and Labour Councillor, won the Mallinson-Dunn Trophy after it was adopted by UNISON)

Bill took the much photographed delegation from Ealing to TUC Conference in 1982 during the 12% campaign. Also spoke at LSE in 1982

COHSE London Ambulance Service branch (699) established November 1964
Branch Chairman Bert Conaway, 10 Silver Walk, Rotherhithe (ex docker for 15 years) Ted King (Secretary) 16 St Stephen's, Bow (ex bus driver) both worked at West Smithfield Ambulance Station (known as Whisky Station - from their radio call signal) since 1962.
First COHSE LAS branch meeting held at Hop Pole Pub, Gambia Street, S1 on 17th December 1964 (with 80 members)