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Issue # 1425      26 August 2009

Unions go global on British health service

A three-million strong global union has launched a campaign to counter lies being spread by some opponents of the White House’s health reform plans.

US right-wingers assert that US President Barack Obama’s drive to guarantee affordable universal health-care amounts to a “socialist” takeover of the private insurance industry.

But the Workers Uniting union, a partnership between British union Unite and the US-Canadian United Steelworkers (USW), observed that the establishment of “an egalitarian health-care system” is “about human and civil rights.”

At present, 46 million US citizens who cannot afford private health insurance have to fend for themselves if they fall ill. Mr Obama’s plan would require employers to either furnish “meaningful coverage” for employees or contribute to a new public plan.

Republican and right-wing groups, backed by healthcare privateers, assert that the introduction of a universal insurance system would unfairly compete with private-sector plans. And failed Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has implied that introducing “socialised health care” would entail the establishment of euthanising “death panels, where the elderly and infirm would be obliged to plead with faceless bureaucrats for their life”.

Workers Uniting has used its website and popular social networking sites to expose this right-wing “nonsense.”

In a message to members, USW international president Leo Gerard pointed out that the debate in the US “has been unfairly focused on the many myths and mistruths being circulated by opponents, including those about the universal health-care system in Britain.”

He hailed “our sisters and brothers in Britain who know the truth and are helping set the record straight.”

Unite joint general secretary Derek Simpson described the NHS as “the pride of Britain” branding attempts to “represent the NHS as inefficient as outrageous.”

Fellow joint general secretary Tony Woodley vowed that Workers Uniting will “work to promote the principles of universal health-care provision for all, free at the point of delivery.”

Mr Woodley said that the internet campaign “will show workers in the US how an egalitarian and effective health-care system must be an aspiration for every fair and decent society.”

He slated claims that a national health-care system will fail the old, or judge the lives of some as unworthy of treatment as “total nonsense.”

Morning Star

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