Union Branch Adds Weight to Andy’s ‘Drop Bill’ Campaign & Makes Call for National Demonstration


Members of the thousand strong Leigh Branch of Britain’s largest trades union UNITE, have added their weight to Labour’s frontbench Health spokesperson, Leigh MP Andy Burnham’s call on the Government, to drop its controversial Health & Social Care Bill, which they say will lead to the “…wholesale giveaway, break-up and privatisation of the National Health Service.”

Meeting last Friday evening at Leigh Labour Club, they agreed to send a motion calling on the Executive Council of the Union to “…take the lead for the organisation of a national demonstration in London, as soon as it might be practically feasible, to add weight to the campaign initiated by Leigh’s Labour MP” and to “…fully support, and issue an appeal to all UNITE members to add their signatures to his ‘Drop the Bill’ petition, and to attend the national demonstration” they are calling for, when it is scheduled to take place.

Speaking on behalf of the Leigh UNITE Branch, Branch Chair Stephen Hall said: “The controversial Bill is soon to begin the Report Stage in the House of Lords, and then it’s Third Reading there. After that, unless the Government alternatively decide to drop the Bill under the weight of public opposition, by ‘Consideration of Amendments’ in the House of Commons and a potential period of Parliamentary ‘ping pong’ until both Houses reach agreement on the final wording of the Bill, and it is then given the Royal Assent and passes into Law.

“Though success is by no means assured, this means that even if the Government decides not do a U-turn as Andy Burnham and the ‘Drop the Bill’ campaign is calling for, it is still possible that the Bill could run out of Parliamentary time, consequently fall altogether and not be re-submitted again during the course of this Parliament.

“For this to occur however will require combining mass public pressure from outside Parliament in particular on cross-bench members of the House of Lords (but also Tory and Lib-Dem ones as well) with the efforts of Labour peers and members of the House Commons, submitting as many amendments as possible to the Bill, as well as expressing their continued reservations about the existing provisions and wording of the Bill in both Houses – all of this, with the intention of  ‘talking’ the whole Bill out of Parliamentary time – an outcome which would represent a major victory for those fighting to save OUR NHS from wholesale privatisation including our own union, nationally and locally.

“While calling on the UNITE EC to take the lead for the organisation of such an urgent national demonstration, and the intensification of its own efforts concerning opposition to the Bill, our Branch believes the EC should seek the broadest possible involvement and support of the wider trades union movement, the TUC, Labour Party, campaigns such as Keep Our NHS Public, the RCN, BMA and the public as a whole for it, including extending an invitation to Andy Burnham and/or Ed Miliband to be speak at it.

“We would needless to say, be delighted if Andy was to add his support to our Branch’s call for such a national demonstration and agree to speak at it when it takes place, which we would hope might be as early as a Saturday in mid February, if the EC backs our call.”

The Leigh union Branch, also decided to invite Andy Burnham to speak at a public meeting in Leigh sponsored by them, as early as possible, to help raise wider public awareness in the area of the threat Lansley’s Bill poses to the NHS as we currently know it, and the fact that it still might be possible to defeat it by bringing public pressure to bear.

Issued by Stephen Hall on behalf of Leigh UNITE 0523 Branch
39 Spa Road, Atherton, Manchester M46 9NR
Telephone: 01942 886645/07724 139278

Photo from the first Wigan & Leigh Save Our NHS/Keep Our NHS Public 'Grim Reaper' Protest in Wigan in July 2011. The Leigh UNITE Branch have been active in the local campaign against Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's Health & Social Care Bill since its inception and one of its main financial backers.

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