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UK IWW launchers campaign at the National Blood Service.

The National Blood Service performs a vital role in collecting blood from donations from 100's of sites daily, testing the blood for Hepatitis, HIV, Malaria and Syphilis and filtering the blood and separating into components. They must then distribute it promptly to hospitals. There are centres that perform these functions in Oxford, Bristol, Southampton, Tooting, Colindale, Brentwood, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Cambridge, Sheffield and Leeds.

Staff have been in industrial dispute with the NBS board of directors and management for about a year, over unworkable reconfiguration plans which will see local processing and testing sites condensed into just three 'supercentres', in Bristol, Manchester and Colindale.

This would mean that blood collections will have to be driven hundreds of miles around the country to and from the "supercentres", putting even more reliance on an already overloaded and frequently clogged up motorway network. It will also mean 600 job losses nationally, and those affected have highly specific skills and years of experience. This is clearly a cost cutting exercise, in a part of the NHS (the National Blood Service) that isn't even in debt.

The situation for emergency workers in dispute is always difficult and they often feel that their position is weakened because withdrawal of labour will cost lives. The Government have been taking advantage of this difficulty in pushing through their continuing privatisation of the NHS. With public support this strategy can be shown up as what it is: bullying. As such it cannot be condoned. Any problems that result from a dispute are fundamentally caused by the Government pushing skilled workers into a position where they must defend the service with the only effective means at their disposal. Any problems caused by such action will pale into insignificance when these local centres are replaced by the "supercentres".

Consider the effects of a major road traffic accident. There will be people needing blood which cannot be delivered because of the traffic chaos caused by the same accident.

How will providing helicopters to move the blood when the transport difficulties become apparent yield a cost saving? They have to be crewed and maintained. Why is the Government keen on subsidiarity in Europe, but everything within the UK must be centralised to be efficient?

Industrial Workers of the World

The IWW, the union for all workers, has members at the National Blood Service, within the NHS and in many other industries. We say to all donors:

  • Support the work the NBS staff are doing by continuing to give blood. The whole point of opposing these changes is to make sure that the blood gets through to those who need it.
  • Support their claims in this dispute by writing to the NBS Chief Executive:
    • Martin Gorham
      Chief Executive
      National Blood Service
      Oak House
      Read's Crescent
      Hertfordshire, WD24 4PH

    or email him at: [email protected]

  • Make people aware of this support by writing to newspapers and telephoning radio and TV stations about this.

The IWW organises across many industries and operates at a local level, with each branch determining what should happen so that people familiar with what affects them get to decide what is done to solve problems.

To find out how the IWW helps workers in this kind of situation, and to become part of that support, contact us at:

IWW, PO Box 1158, Newcastle upon Tyne NE99 4XL

Download this leaflet as a PDF.