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Cablegate: "Largest Health Service Strike in 20 Years" More

VZCZCXRO6935
RR RUEHHM RUEHJO
DE RUEHLO #6853 2650934
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220934Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9233
INFO RUEHXI/LABOR COLLECTIVE
RUEHED/AMCONSUL EDINBURGH 0622
RUEHBL/AMCONSUL BELFAST 0626

UNCLAS LONDON 006853

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB UK GE
SUBJECT: "LARGEST HEALTH SERVICE STRIKE IN 20 YEARS" MORE
OF A DAMP SQUIB


Sensitive but unclassified. Not for internet.

1. (U) Unionized workers at the UK's National Health
Service's supply arm, NHS Logistics, began the first of two
24 hour strikes late on September 21 to protest the sale of
the public sector entity to the German logistics giant, DHL.
NHS Logistics supplies thousands of non-pharmaceutical
supplies to the NHS, from cleaning supplies to medical
equipment, latex gloves, bedpans and food.

2. (SBU) Although touted in the press as the largest work
stoppage at the NHS in 20 years, that's not saying much. In
all, 900 workers are affected, two thirds of whom voted in
the strike ballot organized by their representative, the
giant public sector union Unison. Of that those that voted,
74% approved the strike action, or just about one half of the
unionized workers. Rod Robertson, natioanl director the the
general political fund of Unison, told LabCouns the two
one-day actions are not intended to affect operations,
because stockpiles at hospitals are ample, but simply to get
the NHS to "back off and change course". He also noted that
all the workers would initially be guaranteed protection of
their jobs when the transfer occurred, under UK labor
legislation.

3. (U) NHS will not discuss the specifics of the sale,
citing "commercial confidentiality." According to press
reports, Unison has dropped plans to challenge the sale in
court, because they had little hope of success.

Visit London's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/london/index. cfm
Tuttle

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