I’m a medical student and union activist from London who needs your help to go to the Labor Notes conference, which takes place in Chicago 1-3 April 2016.
The conflict over the junior doctors’ contract has made it clear that UK health workers need to rapidly up our game if we want to protect our working conditions and the rights of patients to quality care. The Labor Notes conference is the biggest annual global gathering of grassroots trade union organisers and labour activists from workplaces and communities around the world. It’s a dense concentration of the skills, knowledge and experience that we need to acquire in order to reclaim a public NHS and decent pay & working conditions for doctors and other UK health workers.
There will be more than a 100 meetings and workshops on topics like creative workplace organizing tactics, beating apathy, winning contract disputes and bargaining over technology. Health workers will form a sizable proportion of the attendees I’ll be able to learn from them and build links for the future in specific industry orientated meetings.
If thanks to you I’m able to attend the conference, then I’ll post a detailed report online with useful findings and observations. If your union body or organisation sponsors the trip, then I’ll do my best to come and give a report in person.
Who am I then?
I’m a medical student in London, where I chair Tower Hamlets division of the BMA and am a member of Unite’s health branch. During the ongoing doctors’ strike I’ve been actively organising in East London to lay the foundations for rank and file wall-to-wall unions in NHS hospitals, as well as leading and agitating for stronger action and broader demands. I’m currently writing my dissertation on the history of NHS strikes, and have strong experience as a campaigner and organiser in health and workers’ rights. In 2014 I ran Medsin (a national network of health activists) before working at global workers’ rights charity War on Want for a year. I’ve been campaigning for a public NHS since 2010, alongside a number of successful public health campaigns. I also co-founded the Open Access Button and graduated from Campaign Bootcamp.
What will it cost?
**Below are the initial estimates - for a more accurate picture, see this campaign update**
- Conference tickets cost $150
- Flights cost £530
- I’m sharing a hotel room with Ian and Nilüfer who successfully crowdfunded what they need to go, so that’s some serious money saved!!
- ESTA and travel insurance - £100
- On top of that there will be travel to the airport, over-priced food etc.
I estimate the total is approximately £800, and will add updates as it becomes clearer. If we beat the target, then I’ll spend the left over money on some excellent Labor Notes publications which are not readily available in the UK, so that they can be distributed here.
Isn't this a bit short notice?
Yes actually! After the success of their crowdfunder, Ian and Nilufer reached out to suggest that I go with them - it's a tight turnaround, but if you can help raise the funds, then I promise to make bring back as much as I can to share with UK health workers and trade unionists.