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IWW and Friends Prepare to Take on Useless Blood Service Bosses

The last year saw the IWW and their allies launch a nation-wide campaign to prevent NBS management from enacting dangerous cuts that will only serve to ease their own workload. IWW members in the NBS’s recognised unions (Unison and Unite) have also been at the forefront of the campaign to push the big unions to act against the plans, rather than seemingly roll over and let management do whatever they want.

NBS bosses plan to centralise thirteen blood processing centres into three ‘supercentres’ in Colindale, Manchester and Bristol. This means 600 jobs will be slashed and local economies and labour markets are going to be hit hard. What’s more, the transport of blood will be even more reliant on our already-overcrowded and polluting road system, with many hospitals more than 100 miles from the nearest centre. Put simply, these plans are a danger to workers, communities and patients.

Of course, the threat of privatisation looms heavily over the NBS, and many see this as a route towards the piece-by-piece selling-off of the NBS to various profit-hungry and irresponsible companies.

As a result of the campaign, the Board of Directors issued an ‘independent’ report with the management consultants McKinsey and Co., which is due out on February 1st. The IWW and their supporters are preparing to hit NBS bosses hard if they don’t scrap the plans. IWW members in the NBS are also calling for greater control for workers on the job, as well as a transparent and recallable board of directors, elected by the workers themselves, as a bare minimum.

Adam, one IWW activist, warned NBS bosses about the backlash they should expect: “If they think they’re going to get away with these cuts, they’re wrong. We’re taking these clowns on, and we’ll fight them all the way.”

Please get in contact with us if you want to help the IWW with joining in actions in this crucial campaign in the coming weeks, and build a powerful and militant union within the healthcare sector.

Solidarity forever!
Support the NBS workers!
Give management vampires hell (and plenty of garlic)!


IWW Press Release – IWW Spurs Blood Service Fightback

January 7th saw the return of MPs to the UK Parliament. It also saw the IWW co-ordinate an international phone blockade. Wobblies chose to celebrate the occasion by sending a message to the Health Minister -Alan Johnson – that cuts to the National Blood Service are notacceptable. Phones were tied up all day as campaigners and supporters from as far afield as Poland, Canada, and the United States, as well as hundreds from around the UK, took part. The IWW in the UK has an active and growing job branch in an NBS processing centre. The action took place ahead of the NHSBT Board meeting on the 10th, where bosses have met to take stock of the management review into their cuts plans.

As this paper goes to publication Board members have already made their “final” decision on their cuts closure plans. They were not expecting to be met by a small contingent of wobblies and sympathisers and were perturbed at being met with antagonistic opposition. This is particularly significant because the Board made every attempt to hold the meeting in secret, even staging the meeting in a health facility not part of the NBS.

Rules governing the NHSBT are supposed to state that the Board meet in public. On this occasion however details of the meeting were hushed up and only revealed to staff across the country a day before the meeting was scheduled to take place. However this unexpected demonstration is only the first among many surprises in store for the”private sector talent” at the NHSBT.

Over the course of the next month the IWW campaign aims to co-ordinate support from across different sections of society.

In the latest phase of the campaign, launched over Christmas, the IWW brought the number of members of the anti-cuts NBS support campaign to over 1000. The campaign aims to leverage this through developing a network of “campaign broadcasters” throughout the country to distribute newsletters and campaign materials and co-ordinate grassroots action and involvement. In addition to this the IWW is in the process of implementing a number of structural changes to the campaign aimed at allowing the organisation to mobilise rapidly to changing developments through a new support committee, as the entire organisation swings behind the campaign. The union believes this will enable it to react rapidly to changing situations and to enable us toco-ordinate more effectively for forthcoming direct action aimed at halting the closures.

“We have a few tricks up our sleeves. We are going to hit these clowns hard over the next few weeks,” Notes South East Regional Organiser Ant Ince.

The next few weeks are seen as crucial to the success of the campaign. The IWW aim to ratchet up the pressure.

To find out more about the campaign to save the National Blood Service, to receive campaign newsletters and information, or to take part and become involved for yourself see the IWW NBS website, or the staff campaign blog.


Show the UK Health Minister; “The world is watching him”Phone Protest


Register your voice of complaint. Let the UK Health Minister know that thousands oppose the blood cuts.

Please telephone, fax or email the UK Health Minister outlining your concerns about the cuts to the National Blood Service. Help tie down his phone and fax machine on January the 7th with complaints and help us make an impact.

Alan Johnson MP

0207 219 1305
0207 219 6637
01482 219211

01482 219211
0207 219 5856



The National Blood Service, which filters, processes and distributes blood to the National Health Service in England and Wales is facing massive cuts. Bosses at the NBS plan to axe 600 jobs. They plan to shut most of the country’s regional network of blood processing centres, relying in future on just three centres. The moves have been condemned by all unions in the service, by several affected city councils, and by a number of external bodies. The cuts are risky, and there is no proven need for them. Cuts to the blood service will affect patient care throughout the NHS, as blood will have to travel further along the country’s road network risking the supply of blood to hospitals.

With mounting pressure on the government to intervene, and on the board to ditch their plan, staff and campaigners are confident that a victory can be achieved. We have already won a review into the cuts programme.

The IWW has been fighting hard within the service to oppose the cuts. We have a growing presence in the NBS and we are confident we can achieve a victory, if we can continue mounting up the pressure on the government to intervene and on the board to ditch their cuts plan. Together with growing staff militancy we have won a review into the cuts programme .

The review taking place into the cuts will be published on the 10th of January. With enough pressure we can see the cuts overturned.

Parliament returns from Christmas recess on the 7th. Help tie down his phone and fax machine on the 7th and help us make a big impact.

Points to note in your communication:-

  • The closure plans will result in three NBS ‘supercentres’ in Bristol, Manchester and Colindale.
  • Vital labs in Birmingham, Cambridge, Brentwood, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield & Southampton are to close. There will be over 600 job losses as a result.
  • Certain sections of the NBS, and the work that they perform, are to be phased out. These include specialist services. In most of these fields the NBS is the market leader.
  • Currently the moves have been strongly opposed by Sheffield City Council, and Liverpool City Council. The restructuring is under investigation by a number of other councils.
  • The NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) Board (management for the NBS) restructuring plan is justified by a predicted fall in demand for blood in hospitals.
  • There are no convincing projections from hospitals that see demand for blood stocks fall. Indeed both demand for blood stocks associated with ethnic minorities particularly, and requirements for specialist blood products and services, are projected to increase.
  • A review into the NHSBT’s Board’s restructuring plans is underway. The findings will be published on the 10th January. The review is being conducted by management consultantancy firm McKinsey’s.
  • Since changes to the NBS management in 2005, parts of the service which were previously very comfortably in the black have lost profitability, as a direct result of poor practice and strategy by the government-appointed board of directors.
  • Currently NBS facilities tend to be no more than 50 miles from the hospitals they serve. After the restructuring this will more than double for many hospitals, leading to increased risk of road accidents and disruption to the blood supply of
  • In November an NBS van was involved in a road accident in Exeter. This is likely to become increasingly commonplace.
  • Further info: http://www.nbs.iww.org / http://www.nbs-sos.blogspot.com