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Where are you at with the campaign to get you reinstated?
The campaign started when I was first suspended June 2007] for bringing the Trust into disrepute. We had 700 people on strike for 14 days of action, followed by further action in November. My appeal was turned down and is now going to an employment tribunal. MPs will be asked to sign [Early Day Motion 443 which calls for my reinstatement and there may be further days of strike action. We’re trying to persuade Alan Johnson to sign the motion. It’s ironic that I am being supported by Stephen O’Brien the Shadow Minister for Health, and not his opposite in the Labour government.
Is the return to work something that can keep the campaign alive?
The campaign is not going to fizzle out. I have received an incredible amount support from my colleagues and many others. People are worried about the Health Service; there is a fear of speaking out and a number of health workers are saying they’re glad that I did. One of the questions I was asked by the management was ‘what loyalty do you have to our organisation?’ I said I have plenty of loyalty to the patients, but what they wanted to know was what corporate loyalty I had to the individual trust. The aim of my suspension was to break our union, but now we have seven more Unison stewards than at the start. The fight to stop staff cuts in our service, the campaign that led to my suspension in the first place, has been won – the managers have conceded they will keep the original staffing levels.
During the campaign you brought in many activists from the Trade Union movement and the left. How was this achieved?
One of the first things we recognised was that we needed to mobilise political pressure from the outside. There was a deliberate strategy of including trade unionists and service user groups and networks. We have fought to get users heard. They overcame the stigma of mental illness and have been articulate in their defence of the service. We made an effort to write to every Unison branch to pass information on and particularly helpful were the CWU and RMT unions who made donations to the campaign and invited us to speak at their meetings.
Regarding the NHS in general what would you say are the key issues?
One of the key problems is the tendering process. It identifies areas of work, for example, hip replacement operations and parcels them off. The idea is to create a competitive market within the Health Service. South Manchester Psychiatric Unit is run by a Private Finance Initiative that uses a private contractor to clean the ward and it costs the NHS four times what it did when the work was in-house. Also more of the work is target-driven.
As an NHS employee how would you say working conditions have changed during your career?
When I started 25 years ago we provided a service to patients. Now targets are the be all and end all and we can no longer prioritise in terms of need.
On the other hand 25 years ago nurses’ wages were worse because they were less unionised. But with this slight improvement in wages has come a greater workload. The pace is unrelenting. For example occupancy rates are much higher. Now there are 20 beds for 24 or 25 patients with occupancy rates at 120 per cent to 130 per cent. This leads to stress amongst the staff and patients.
Would you recommend a job in the Health Service to people?
I love the work and the people I work with are fantastic. If you do a job that is helpful to others it is generally more satisfying. But more time is spent filling out forms and battling bureaucracy. I would say ‘do it’ but you’ll have to fight your corner.
Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko gave an overview of what a privatised health system looks like in the US, is that something that could happen here?
Nothing is automatic about the NHS. People who fought in the Second World War weren’t prepared to go back to the provisions available in the 1930s. Unlike the Tories, this government dresses up privatisation in complicated proposals. They don’t say they will privatise it but they are in effect creating a market – they’re saying that 15 per cent of the Health Service should be outside the NHS. Not only has the NHS management chosen private operators to run aspects of the service but now private companies are set up to do this on their behalf.
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Nick Dowson looks at the new wave of co-ops and community groups where people are building their own truly affordable homes
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase
Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields
Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank
Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded
West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age
Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi
Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun
Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh
With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook