Saturday, December 26, 2009

COHSE Guildford 1333 Banner

COHSE Guildford & District 1333 branch banner, (Royal Surrey County hospital, st Luke's Hospital, Milford hospital, Hydestyle hospital. hospital sheet circa 1981 made for Peoples' March for Jobs. White sheet, blue lettering.

Top picture COHSE banner carried on national demonstration 22nd September 1982 and below (black & white) carried on CND demo 1981.

COHSE Branch Secretary Carles Martinez

COHSE Brent Banner

COHSE Student Nurses leading the COHSE Brent (Central Middlesex Hospital) 670 branch banner during 1982 hospital campaign.

Traditional hospital sheet.

COHSE Wales Banner

Early 1980's COHSE Wales banner (one of a series of Regional COHSE banners of the period produced nationally) Centre Denbeigh born , Welsh speaker and registered nurse and COHSE. General Secretary David Williams

COHSE Lancashire Banner

COHSE Banner North West Region 3 Banner

COHSE Claybury Banner

COHSE Claybury branch banner with the famous "rat leaving the Asylum" at the bottom of the banner.

Does anyone know what happended to the banner last seen at the merger into UNISON in 1993

COHSE Region 6 Banner

COHSE North West Thames & Oxford Region 6 Banner, with Red phenoix and red flags and slogan Agitate: Educate: Organise made by Chippenham design Circa 1984.

Below national COHSE Banner

COHSE Banner's 1991

Robert Quick, Regional Secretary with COHSE banner of South Yorkshire and East midlands Region 12, Made by Red Wedge, Brighton Red and Gold
Sharrow Head, Sheffield.COHSE Banner Cymru Region 10 - Wales made by Dragon Banners Yorkshire. COHSE banner Unveiled by Hector MacKenzie COHSE General secretary Cardiff 1991.

Claybury branch banner is one of the finest COHSE branch banners, as it illustrates a rat leaving the "Asylum".

Saturday, December 19, 2009

1982 TUC Regional Day's of Action - Never Again


As part of the 1982 Pay campaign a TUC series of Regional Day of Action was throughout the UK and the South East Region was held at Guildford.

Those attending were primarily COHSE nurses from Guildford Royal Surrey County Hospital, Milford and larger Psychiatric hospitals in the Region, where COHSE was dominant.

It should be noted that these Regional Day's of Action were a complete disaster and should never be repeated

The 1982 Health workers campaign was finally called off on the eve of the infamous Transport strike planned for 8th November (Which never took place).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Zealand Hospital Workers Fight Pay Freeze

'Lift the Freeze on Low Pay', rally in Auckland, 27th November 2009. Part of a national day of action in 27 towns and cities across New Zealand to demand an end to the wage freeze on low paid public and community sector workers in schools, community organisations, hospitals and the public service.

More than 6,000 hospital service workers and community support workers were on strike.

John Ryall General Secretary of SFWU
, New Zealand

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Big Bonuses in the City - Nurses Face Pay Freeze

Stand up to Bankers' Blackmail

Thursday 03 December 2009

Unison leader Dave Prentis has said bankers should "come down to earth and realise their world has changed"

Unison leader Dave Prentis has said bankers should "come down to earth and realise their world has changed"

Trade unions have urged the government to reject Royal Bank of Scotland bosses' blackmail and call their bluff over massive bonus plans.

The bank's board has threatened to quit if the Treasury blocks plans to pay out bonuses to its staff to the tune of £1.5 billion, despite having had to be bailed out to the tune of billions of pounds by the taxpayer.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber warned that the threats proved that nothing had been learned from the economic collapse only last year.

"The banks nearly brought down the whole economy only a year ago. Few would have survived without government or Bank of England help," he said.

"Yet now we learn that they are back to the bad old days when they confused their telephone numbers with what they were paid.

"Surely there must be a limit to the amount of champagne that even a banker can consume in a year?"

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis described directors at the bank a "disgrace" and called on them to "come down to Earth and realise their world has changed."

He said that, despite banks and financial institutions causing a collapse that has forced many thousands onto the dole, plenty of those claiming benefits would be happy to be able to find a fair day's work for a fair day's pay.

"It is outrageous that millionaire bankers are trying to blackmail taxpayers into paying them multimillion-pound bonuses," added Unison Greater London nursing officer Michael Walker at the union's London Nursing Conference in Lewisham.

"Nurses on many wards could state that, without a significant pay rise, they may be forced to leave nursing and therefore patient care could suffer.

"Yet nurses are not offered a pay rise, they are facing the threat of a pay freeze from millionaire Tories."

And Left Economics Advisory Panel co-ordinator Andrew Fisher added: "The government should respond to this blackmail with one word. Goodbye."

But the government responded with very mixed signals.

Chancellor Alistair Darling warned that he was prepared to veto the size of the bank's bonus pool after City Minister Lord Myners warned that at least 5,000 bankers would pocket more than £1 million each this year unless action was taken.

Lord Myners said there was "precious little evidence" that people at the top of the banks appreciated the "concern about these extraordinary levels of income."

He called on major shareholding institutions to tackle the issue immediately, before it was too late.

However, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson struck a different note, expressing support for the board and appearing to contradict the earlier stance taken by the Treasury.

"I understand the point of view that Royal Bank of Scotland directors are expressing - they have to remain competitive in the market in recruiting senior executives," he said, adding that bonuses "form an integral part" of remuneration packages for senior staff, although he urged banks to exercise restraint voluntarily.

A spokesman for the bank merely claimed that bonuses were necessary to operate in "competitive markets."

Morning Star

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jessie Ritchie - WW1 QAIMNS


Jessie Ritchie

Cargill, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, Scotland.
Sister of James Ritchie of The Neuk, Rosemount Blairgowrie, Pertshire, Scotland.

Trained at the Royal infirmary Dundee Scotland.

later worked for the Nurses Co-operative in London based at Cavendish Square.

Served in the Boer War and was the Matron at the Orange River (concentration) Refugee Camp 1902.

Meet General Smuts on 2nd June 1902.

Joined the British Expeditionary Forces in France during the first days of World War One as a Staff Nurse in the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, transfered to Egypt and later to the Salonika front in Greece.

Died of dysentery 13th August 1916

Buried: Salonika Lembet Road Cemetery
The Cemetery is on the northern outskirts of Thessalonika, Greece

Commemorated on Wolfill Village Hall, Perthshire Memorial


Dundee Staff Nurse: AGNES GREIG MANN QAIMNS aged 25, drowned as a result of the German U boat mining of the H.M.H.S. "Salta." 10th April 1917 buried Ste. Marie Cemetery, Le Havre;

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mary Rodwell - Suffragette and WW1 Nursing Heroine

Suffragette and WW1
Nursing Heroine

Miss Mary Rodwell (Brockdish, Norfolk) was a member Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (Q.A.I.M.N.S.R.). She was killed on the night of 17th November 1915 when the Hospital Ship Anglia was returning from Calais to Dover with 390 injured soldiers, 56 crew members and a compliment doctors and nurses during World War 1.

The nursing
complement included Matron, Mrs. Mitchell, Nurse Walton, Nurse Meldrum, and Nurse Mary Rodwell, At around 12:30 pm, in pitch darkness and one mile East of Folkestone Gate, the Hospital Ship "Anglia" hit a mine laid by a German U boat, within 15 minutes the ship had sunk. Claiming the lives of over one hundred soldiers, crewmen and also the life of nursing sister Mary Rodwell.

According to the Nursing Times 27th
November 1915, "The horror of that first moment have been indescribable when the doomed vessel plunged her bows into the water at an angle which suggested her instant death, and the staff were faced with the problem of getting nearly 200 cot cases up from wards and lower wards in almost impossible conditions. "

The water at once rushed into the lowest wards, and the orderlies who went to investigate reported that it was up over their heads. From the other wards every man who could move himself scrambled as best he could to the deck, and some of the wounded, officers and men alike, did all in their power to save the others, hunting out lifeboats for them and fastening on
All the time the nurses were working steadily, chiefly concerned with the lifebelts, but bringing up all the wounded who could be moved along those slanting corridors."

Some of the men reported sister Rodwell had been injured in the initial explosion. The Matron and sister on deck when urged to get into a boat, which had come alongside, would not hear of it. saying "we have the right to be last this time"
"I offered to help one nurse you come with me and I'll get you to safety. i am a very strong swimmer. You'll be safe with me. But she shook her head an said she could not leave her men. So she was with them to the last ".

Between 127 and 164 were killed in the sinking of the Hospital ship Anglia, The survivors described sights which were worse than anything they had seen at in Flanders.

The Army Orders in relation to the tragic sinking of the hospital ship Anglia contained the following Statement:

"The Army Council desire to place on record their appreciation of the presence of mind and devotion to duty shown by the Royal Army Medical Corps personnel on the occasion of the sinking of the hospital ship Anglia which struck a mine on November 17th 1915.

"Through the courage and presence of mind of the Matron Mrs Mitchell, and devotion of the nursing sisters, most of the cot cases were evacuated, from the ship. in this work, lieutenants P.L.T. Bennet and H.W. Hodgson Royal Medical Corps, were conspicuous and aided by Private Darwen and McGuire of the same corps, they succeeded in saving wounded from the lower wards when they were awash and almost submerged Mary Rodwell friends testified that "she was well aware of the risks she ran in serving the sick and wounded on a hospital ship.

The Matron and sister rescued from Anglia say that they cannot speak too highly of her (Nurse Mary Rodwell). The last the Matron (Mrs Mitchell) saw of her was shortly before the explosion, when she came up to fetch some warm woollies for her patients When war broke out she felt it her duty to volunteer for foreign service, and was from February till may 1915 on hospital trains, and on the Anglia since May.

Mary Rodwell prophetically wrote a letter dated 8th September 1915

The large hospital ships have gone to the Dardanelles leaving us only the small ones for France. I saw the XXXXX she takes 3,000 patients and is enormous. I prefer a smaller boat myself, in case anything should go wrong. and just now the German mines are a great many over here. we have also seen (German) submarines at times. ......"So far we have been lucky with the hospital ships. We had a narrow escape with bombs a few weeks ago. The explosion threw us out of our bunks .... The high explosive bomb was only forty yards from us, and several fire bombs only 10 yards from us burnt themselves out on the pier without doing any damage, as they were on a stone pier, but the noise of the explosive bombs was terrific. We just rocked and dashed, the boast listing very much, but recovering itself without any damage done except lights and telephone broke, but a trawler near had some men killed and injured"

Hospital ships regularly had no escort and on one trip the ship's passengers even included the King, who's entourage suffered from sea sickness and who Mary Rodwell nursed.

The wreck of the hospital ship Anglia is now an Official War Grave, which lies on a sandy bed, where she was struck on that tragic night.
A number of those killed are recorded on the war Memorial at Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton including Mary Rodwell.

Mary Rodwell was born at Brockdish, Norfolk (near Diss) on June 7th, 1874 the daughter of Mr J. Rodwell, she later lived in the village of Oakley on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

She trained at Hendon Infirmary Hospital in North West London from 1901 to 1904. Later nurse Rodwell worked at Samaritan Free Hospital, Maryleboune Road, London and later still in private nursing homes in the Capital.

When war broke out she felt it her duty to volunteer for foreign service, and was from February till may 1915 on hospital trains, and on the Anglia from May 1915. It was reported in the British Nursing Journal that she was a supporter of their magazine (as opposed to the (Royal) College Nursing of Nursing Journal the Nursing Times) and that she was supporter of a nursing regulatory body which the (Royal) College of Nursing then opposed. 

Mary Rodwell  would have undoubtedly therefore have supported the development of nursing trade unionism as outlined by Maude MacCallum's Professional Union of Trained Nurses Nursing Union established in 1919. Miss Elma Smith Matron at Hendon Infirmary stated"She herself could wish for no better end than to die with the patients under her care".

Mary Rodwell was also recorded as being an enthusiastic suffragist being an member "ardent" supporter of the Crystal Palace and Anerley Women's Freedom League (WFL). She seems to have become involved in the local branch while living with her uncle Robert Eagle in Upper Norwood, South London (22 Palace Road). 

After her tragic death the The Crystal Palace & Anerley Women's Freedom League stated that Mary Rodwell's "name will be held in honour and reverence"

The WFL was a "progressive" more working class women orientated breakaway group from the WSPU established by Charlotte Despard, Edith How-Martyn and Teresa Billington-Grieg on 22nd October 1907. The WFL objected to the lack of democracy in the WSPU, it's deferance to wealthy women rather than tackle the issues facing working women's, they also opposed the WSPU's vandalism and particular it's arson campaigns.

The WFL while willing to break the law in furtherance of "Votes for Women" through direct action, Muriel Matters a WFL famously sailed over London in a hot air balloon showering London with "Votes for women" leaflets, The WFL was completely non-violent (over 100 of its members went to jail for direct action demonstrations and refusing to pay taxes and ) 

The colours of the Women's Freedom League (WFL) were Green, Gold and White.

Mary Rodwells name appears at the church in Ditchingham, Norfolk.

On 2nd July 1920 a memorial bronze plaque was unveiled at Colindale hospital, it was stated that the memorial would remind nurses "who come after, of their courage self abnegation and devotion to duty when the hour of trial came".



BJN British Journal of Nursing  11 December 1915 (and others)

Nursing Times 27 November 1915

See also Jerry Green's excellent article re the Crystal Palace connections and family reasearch

Mureil Matters of the Womens Freedom League also organised  the WFL van tour starting in mid October in Oxshott, Surrey and touring Surrey, Kent, Sussex and East Anglia

Tragically, another Hendon nurse sister Julia Winchester returning to her post on the Gold Coast was also drowned on the "Falaba" which was torpedoed 28th March 1915 by a German U boat.

Julia Winchester's body was afterwards recovered from the sea and buried in the churchyard at St Agnes, Cornwall. 

Robert Eagle was a noted supporter of Crystal Palace Football Club

Friday, November 13, 2009

WW1 National Asylum Workers Union

National Asylum Workers Union

Private Fred Cartmell; 8th Battalion King's Own Royal Lanacter Regiment, Rainhill Asylum staff and union member

He was invalided home early in from wounds received in September 1917 returned to the front and was killed in action 26/09/1917 aged 27. Husband of Emma Cartmell 25 New Road, Rainhill, Lancashire, Tyne Cot Cemetery.

Private Frederick Curtis; 1st battalion Welsh Guards active union member at Maidstone Mental Hospital, killed in France July 31st 1917 aged 32. Duhallow Cemetery. Son of Elizabeth Waterman, Edinburgh Villa, Barming Heath, Maidstone.

Sergeant Oliver; 2nd North Midlands Royal Garrison Artillery. died in hospital in France aged 32 on 27/08/1917 mentioned in dispatches, Dozinghem cemetery . He was a reservist at outbreak of the War an an attendant at Wakefield Asylum and a member of the local union branch. Husband 12 Denstone Street, Mount Pleasant, Wakefield. Son of Louis Kossuth Batty.

Private H. Wilson; (Charles Henry Wilson) 8th East Surrey Regiment was killed in action at Messines Ridge near Ypres on July 23rd 1917, buried at Ypres Menin Gate, union member at Napsbury Hospital

Thursday, November 05, 2009

First Hospital Ship 1862

The first hospital ship used during war time, came into service during the American Civil War.

The USS Mound City had captured the "Red Rover" from the Confederates on 7 April 1862 and the ship was later turned into a hospital ship, USS Red Rover on the Mississippi.

The ships medical crew included a complement of Catholic Sisters of the Holy Cross nurses and a section Afro-American nurses.

Renamed the hospital ship "Red Rover" she was placed in service of the U.S. Army's Western Gunboat Flotilla in June 1862. Hospital Ship "Red Rover" served on the Mississippi in this role through the summer of 1862,

We know the names of at least four nurses -
Alice Kennedy, Sarah Kinno, Ellen Campbell and Betsy Young.

The nursing staff aboard the "Red Rover" represented the first US Navy nurses and some of the first recognised Afro American nurses

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Henrietta Mellett and Canadian Nurses WW1

Henrietta Mellett

Irish-Canadian Nurse

By Marc Leroux

Sometimes fate gives us a chance to do things that we might otherwise miss.

A couple of weeks ago I was updating the cause of death for all the Nursing Sisters in the Canadian Great war Project. When I got to Henrietta Mellett, I noticed that the Cause of Death in Ed Wigneys Roll of Honour was listed as “Drowning”.

Henrietta Mellett was born in Galway, Ireland October 21, 1883, and enlisted into the Canadian Army Medical Corps (No 15 General Hospital) at London, Ontario on 22nd January 1918 . She appears on the 1911 Census, so she immigrated to Canada sometime prior to 1911.

As with any attempt to reconstruct events from over 90 years ago, there is some degree of speculation, but it is likely that her family had moved from Galway to Dublin and was living there in 1918. It is likely that Henrietta Mellett was returning to England on 10 October 1918 after visiting them. She was aboard the mailboat R.M.S. Leinster, with a crew of 77 and 694 passengers, bound for Holyhead, Wales when it was attacked and sunk by the German submarine UB-123 just before 10:00 AM. The Leinster went down about 6 km outside of Dublin Bay. The official loss of life was 501 personnel, and it was possibly higher.

Fate came in to play when I saw that her body had been recovered and she was buried in Dublin. My wife and I were planning an Irish vacation, so last Tuesday, 3 weeks after looking up her cause of death, on a drizzly morning, I found myself in Mt. Jerome Cemetery in Dublin. I located her grave, as well as the grave of Private Fryday, the only other Canadian buried there. Nursing Sister Mellette is buried with her brother and sister, with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission marker atop the grave.

It is very satisfying to be able to be fortunate enough to have found that she was buried there, and to be able to make the trip to the Cemetery to honour her memory.

Canadian Nurses WW1

By Michael Walker

Canadian Nurses who died WW1

46 of the 3,000 women who served as "nursing sisters" in the Canadian Army Medical Corps lost their lives during the war. Of info available, six were killed or mortally wounded (of which three died in the deliberate bombing of the military hospital in √Čtaples, France);

15 died at sea, with the sinking of the hospital ship, Llandovery Castle; 15 died of disease; and seven died later in Canada


Short, simple and deeply impressive was the ceremony, says The Canadian Nurse, which took place in the wide corridor just outside the Legislative Chamber of the Parliament Buildings, Toronto, when the memorial tablet to the memory of the nurses of the Ontario Military Hospital, Orpington, Kent, England, who gave their lives during the war, was unveiled by Major Margaret C. MacDonald, R.R.C. Matron-in-Chief of the Canadian overseas military forces

Family and many persons of note attended the ceremony. Present for the occasion were the near relatives of the heroines whose names appear on the tablet :

Nursing Sister Mary McKenzie,
formerly of Toronto, who was drowned in the sinking by the enemy of the hospital ship Llandovery Castle;

Nursing Sister S. E. Garbutt,
who went overseas for service in June, 1917(?), and died of cancer the following (20th August 1917);

Nursing Sister M. Lowe,
Of Binscarth, Manitoba, who was killed during the bombing outrages at Etaples in May, 1918 ; (28th May 1918)

Nursing Sister D. H. Baldwin,
who died as a result of wounds received during the enemy raids at. Doulens, France, in May, 1918 ; (30th May 1918)

Nursing Sister M. E. Greene,
who died of double pneumonia, at No. 24 British General Hospital, Etaples, France, in October, 1918. (9th October 1918)

Hon. Dr. H. J. Cody, former Minister of Education, read the memorial service and dedicated the tablet, erected by the matron and nursing sisters of the Orpington (Canadian) Hospital unit.


Alpaugh. A
Baker. M. E
Baker. M. E
. G. E.
. C.
. E.
Cumming. I.
Dagg. A. St. C.
Donaldson. G.
. C. J.
Dussault. A.
Follette. M. A.
Forneri. A. F.
Fortescue. M. J.
Fraser. M. M.
Frederickson. C.
Gallaher. M. K.
Grant.G. M.
Herman .V. B.
Henshaw. I.
Hunt. M.
Jaggard. J. B.
Jarvis. J.
Jenner. L. M.
Kealy. I. L.
King. J. N.
MacIntosh. R.
MacLeod. M.
McDiarmid .J. M.
McDougall .A.
McEachen. R.
McGinnis. M. G.
McKay. E. V.
McKenzie. M. A.
. R. M.
Mellett. H.
Munro. M. F. E
Roberts. J.
Rogers. N. G.
Ross. A. J.
Ross E. G.
Sampson. M. B.
Sare. G. I.
Sparks. E.
Stamers. A. I.
Templeman. J.
Trusdale. A.
Tupper. A. A.


Baldwin. G (30 May 1918) wounds
. L.A (21 February 1918) K/N
Garbutt S. E (20 August 1917) K/N
Green. M (9 October 1918) Disease
Lowe. M (28 May 1918) wounds
MacDonald. K.M. (19 May 1918) wounds
MacPherson. A (30 May 1918) wounds
Pringle. E.L (30 May 1918) wounds
Wake. Gladys M.M (21 May 1918) wounds

Whitely. A (21 April 1918) wounds


At the end of the month of June 1918, the "LLANDOVERY CASTLE" was on her way back to England from Halifax. She has on board the crew, consisting of one hundred and sixty-four men, eighty officers and men of the Canadian Medical Corps, and fourteen nurses, a total of two hundred and fifty-eight persons. There were no combatants on board. The vessel had not taken on board any munitions or other war material. This has been clearly established.

In the evening of 27th of June, 1918, at about nine-thirty (local time) the "LLANDOVERY CASTLE" was sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, about one hundred and sixteen miles south-west of Fastnet (Ireland), by a torpedo from the German U-boat 86. Of those aboard only twenty-four persons were saved, two hundred and thirty-four having been drowned.

For a superb account of nurses in WW1 read "It's a long way to Tipperary " (British & Irish nurses in the Great War) by Yvonne McEwen

Michael Walker

UNISON The Nursing Union - London

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Royal Surrey County Hospital - Sports Day circa 1982

Tangley/Tilford ward new Royal Surrey County Hospital, Simply the best staff and ward at RSCH in the 1980's solid COHSE, many ex Milford Chest Hospital nurses

I salute you all and hope your doing well

at least one important nurse missing from this picture

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nurses Strike - Gweedore - Donegal Gaeltacht


21 Aug 2009

SIPTU members to take industrial action at Gweedore Nursing Home in the Donegal Gaeltacht (Ireland's largest Irish speaking area)

Members of SIPTU at the Bainistiocht Aras Gaoth Dobhair Teoranta nursing home in Gweeedore County Donegal are taking industrial action in pursuit of their claim for terms and conditions of employment comparable to similar grades in the Health Service Executive
(HSE). The initial stoppage is for 24 hours on September 1 and the Union says it will do everything possible to avoid discomfort to patients if the action goes ahead.

Aras Gaoth Dobhair, a 41 bed community nursing home, was set up in 2004 on a partnership basis between the HSE, Udar√°s na Gaeltacht and a local community group. The Director of Service at the nursing home is a HSE employee, while two community care managers are nominated by the HSE to sit on the management committee of the nursing home.

“However, SIPTU members, who comprise the majority of the 47 employees and work in the administrative and maintenance areas, do not enjoy the same terms and conditions of employment as similar grades within the HSE”, Branch Organiser, Martin O’Rourke said today. He added that Union members have waited patiently for over three years to have their employment issues resolved.

“In July, the Labour Court recommended very marginal improvements which do not resolve the issues of concern to our members. The Court’s recommendations on pensions, sick pay and shift allowances were overwhelmingly rejected as completely inadequate and far short of what HSE employees enjoy,” he said.

“SIPTU issued notice of industrial action to the company on August 6, 2009 to allow it the best possible opportunity to resolve the dispute. Regretfully, we have yet to received any meaningful proposals which might resolve the outstanding issues.

“Many of the clients are vulnerable and elderly and for that reason we have decided to limit the initial action to one 24-hour period commencing at 8.00am on Tuesday, September 1 until 8.00am on Wednesday, September 2. ” he said. “If the strike goes ahead, every effort will be made to avert possible discomfort clients.”

He stressed that SIPTU remains available for talks, “But it is not fair, reasonable nor acceptable that all employees do not enjoy the same terms and conditions of employment as similar grades within the HSE who do exactly the same work. Frankly, our members deserve better than this.”


SIPTU/ITGWU has for many years a strong base amongst nurses in Donegal, starting with nurses at Letterkenny Mental Hospital thanks to the work of ITGWU pioneers such as Peadar O'Donnell (Irish speaker born at Meenmore, Dugloe, Co Donegal) appointed ITGWU organiser in

John Nugent was elected as ITGWU branch secretary in 1947 at Letterkenny Mental Hospital.

The ITGWU had members in Donegal from the beginnings of the union in 1909, while Peadar O'Donnell had increased membership, by 1920 Donegal had just four branches Donegal town, Letterkenny, Ballyshannon and Dugloe (?). It was not until the organisation of workers at a Woollen Mill at Convoy, the largest private employer in the county that membership took off.

The first branch Secretary of the Convoy branch was John Anthony McElhinney.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

SW London mental health

UNISON South West London Mental Health packed AGM 2009 and leading the way on the G20 protest

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Telegraph - Outdated dogma will not get us out of this mess


Today's Sunday Telegraph (26th April 2009) Editorial today states that "Outdated dogma will not get us out of this mess".

I trust that they are referring to the Conservative Parties statements on the NHS which now include

1) Continuation of privatisation (Such a cleaning which has killed thousands in cross infection)
2) Continuation of failed PFI (which has cost millions
3) A pay freeze (refusing to honour the independent review body)
4) Scrapping the present NHS Pension scheme (Do they know how small a nurses NHS pension is)
5) Foundation hospitals (more failed privatisation plans
6) naming and shamming NHS Bosses over £150k a year
(look forward to seeing how much those General Practitioners and Consultants earn)

As the NHS Consultants association state "No one has ever been able to provide information that shows that privatisation or competition improves the quality of health care, far from it. research from America shows increased "competition" leads to bigger bureaucracy and poorer quality of health care.

but of course............the Sunday Telegraph was complaining that the rich might have to pay more for THEIR FINANCIAL CRISIS

Something about millionaire Tory bankers telling nurses that we have to make more sacrifices because of their crisis

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jack Jones You are History - You are Legend

Jack Jones
Born 29th March 1913
Died 21st April 2009

A Great Man - A Great Life

Trade Unionist, International Brigader and Pensioners' Leader

"They went because their open eyes
could see no other way"

No Pasaran

You are History - You are Legend

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hillingdon Hospital Cleaners - Fightingback


One Day strike organised by COHSE and NUPE Domestics at Hillingdon Hospital 23rd May 1985. (100%) (pic below)

The strike was in protest at the hospital's privatisation programme and support with Barking hospital strikers.

Management asked them either to lose their bonus or be privatised. The staff voted overwhelmingly against cutting their bonus.

equally solid amongst white staff from Colham and Asian staff from Southall

In September 1985 at the civic centre, (pic below)the District Health Authority voted to privatise the service was privatised, with the loss of 213 jobs.

Private contractor started February 1st 1986 ICC Hospital services Ltd

Hillingdon was one of the first private contracts after St Helier, Hammersmith to be forced through by the Tories.

Of course this was only a dress rehearsal for the great Hillingdon Hospital cleaners strike ten years later.

A new company took over the contract, Pall Mall cleaning, who decided that it would be better--at least for its directors--if the pay of the domestic staff was reduced from about £3.50 to £2.50 an hour.

Fifty-five mainly Asian women members of UNISON (NUPE & COHSE having merged) decided that, on principle, it was not acceptable to have their pay reduced by about 30 % and went on strike on 1st October 1995 (pic first day of strike).

After an employment tribunal had finally ruled that they should receive maximum compensation and must be reinstated.

The now famous Hillingdon Hospital strike lasted five years and Malkiat Bilku the NUPE/UNISON Steward walked back into work on October 30th 2000 with Alan Keen MP, to the first day back at work.

Hillingdon Hospital Cleaners strike 1st October 1995 to 29th October 2000

Barking Hospital Strike 1984


Crothall's (a subsidiary of Pritchards) held the contract for hospital cleaning at Barking Hospital in East London for a number of years prior to 1984.

This company had close links to the Conservative Party and in particular arch privateer Michael Forsyth MP (Stirling) who's Michael Forsyth Associates were consultants to Pritchards. (Likewise Lord Ashcroft and Mediclean)

Michael Forsyth now states hospital cleaning privatisation went to far in driving down standards, however his late clarification of his views, fail to hide the fact that thousands of patients have needlessly died or been maimed as a direct result of the Tories hospital cleaning privatisation, which deliberately and callously drove down cleaning hours and standards.

After the introduction of the Tories hospital cleaning privatisation at all cost charter outlined in the now infamous and hated
DHSS Circular (HC) 18 83 .

This Circular forced hospital to award hospital cleaning contracts to the lowest tender and cared little for the impact on cross infection or staff pay and conditions, it was riddled with Tory dogma, revenge for the 1982 hospital workers pay battle.

Crothalls decided that in order to maintain the contract at Barking Hospital they would reduce the cost by a massive 41%. Cleaning hours were cut from 2,189 to 1,330, the cleaners pay by a third, cut holiday pay from 4 weeks to three weeks, no sick pay and massive changes in staff shifts.

When the Barking Hospital cleaners(mainly NUPE members) came out on strike in March 1983, Crothalls sacked them using the new anti union laws introduced by the Tories,

Rodney Bickerstaffe NUPE General Secretary stated that Barking Hospital was "our Cortonwood" in a reference to the Miners strike against pit closures.

A London wide day of Action was organised by rank & file activists and did secure good support, even in areas such as Hillingdon where solidarity action had previously been unknown.

Their s very strong 24 hour picket line at the hospital, but unfortunately Police showed every sympathy with the casual labour now filling the strikes jobs arrested numerous activists.

The depute went o into 1985, but the very courageous battle waged by the women (with the support of Barking Health Emergency) the strike ended in defeat.

However, they had manged to highlight the very real impact of privatisation on cleaning standards and staff.

At Barking Hospital cross infection rates at the hospital soared and cockroaches were founding crawling in the hospital's baby incubator's.

Hospital cleaners were forced to strike against OCS contractors at Addenbrookes hospital (Cambridge), six months at Scarsdale Hospital, Chesterfield and three months at Hammersmith against Mediclean.

One Day strike organised by COHSE and NUPE Domestics at Hillingdon Hospital 23rd May 1985. (100%) (pic below)

The strike was in protest at the hospital's privatisation programme and support with Barking hospital strikers.

Management asked them either to lose their bonus or be privatised. The staff voted overwhelmingly against cutting their bonus.

The strike was equally solid amongst white staff from Colham and Asian staff from Southall

1988 Nurses Clinical Grading Dispute

1988 Nurses
Clinical Grading Dispute

National Nurses 1988 Clinical Grading dispute at Hilling
don Hospital, day of action. Nurses outside the A&E entrance. COHSE nursing members.

One of the best and most successful campaigns run by NHS unions.

Securing massive improvements in Clinical Grading and London Weighting

Below 1988 Clical Grading Dispute at Central Middlesex Hospital (with newly elected Paul Boateng MP for Brent South (1987-2005). Demo organised by COHSE.
Click pictures to enlarge

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

Hammersmith Hospital Strike 1984

Hammersmith Hospital

In 1983 the Conservative Party keen to destroy public services decided to force through privatisation of hospital cleaning. This led to cuts of 50% in cleaning staff, poor pay and more importantly a massive increase in infection rates.

One of the first contracts to be awarded to the private sector (as the NHS Cleaning staff refused to cut their staff and pay) was at Hammersmith hospital. The subsequent strike was one of the most aggressive fought and included occupations and breaking up of Board meetings.

The contract went to Mediclean (who also won contracts at St Helier, Sutton and Bridge Hospital, Essex. The £450,000 Hammersmith contract started on 28th January 1985.

While a majority of the NUPE and COHSE members struck, a significant minority remained in work and the strike divided by country, the Irish and Portuguese being the strongest. helped no doubt that the NUPE Branch secretary Lydia Fraser was Portuguese (her husband Pete Fraser was
NUPE branch secretary at St Charles Hospital. While a number of the COHSE branch officers were Irish.

Not all workers had their pay cut the contract manager Simon Cox at Hammersmith it was discovered was on £15,000 a year. COHSE was able to secure the pay and benefits package for all key Mediclean staff much to Medicleans embarrassment, this included BUPA coverage and top of the range cars while cleaning staff had their pay cut, holidays, sick pay, pensions, overtinme and weekend rates.

The Cleaning staff
at Hammersmith Hospitalwas was cut from the original 220 staff to 158 and the number of full time staff was cut from 122 to just 28.

Withe regard to cleaning hours in the contracts they were cut from 6,170 to 2,802 per week hardly surprising that "so called" savings were made. but this was at the direct cost of hospital cleanliness. Today over 70% of hospital cleaning contracts are still in the private sector and the Tories have a cheek to complain about dirty NHS hospitals....who made them dirty ?.

Below right Lydia and Pete Fraser at COHSE Conference 1984

Sunday, January 04, 2009

COHSE North West Thames Region

Photo COHSE Conference circa 1990 Blackpool
North west Thames Region

Click to enlarge