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Why should we care about the United Steel Workers locked out by National Grid?

THE abuse of power could not be more stark. The workforce and their families access to health insurance cut off overnight. 

That is powerful leverage only possible because, in the US, health provision is a market of sellers and buyers and healthcare doesn’t come cheap.

In Trump’s US even the modest Obamacare is being rolled back and we have seen vulnerable patients dumped by the roadside wearing nothing more than their hospital gowns.

This year “our NHS,” Labour’s lasting legacy, celebrated its 70th birthday. The idea that an employer could wield the power to turn off our entitlement to NHS services is abhorrent. That workers and their families should face a cliff edge of care at an employer’s behest is inhumane. 

As Britain is poised for a possible crash out of the EU and Theresa May’s government wanders the globe cap in hand for a trade deal, TTIP version two is a real threat. 

Unite campaigned vigorously to exclude opening up the NHS to US commercial interests and eventually the government buckled under pressure.

Yet in a post-Brexit Britain we will need to guard against any trade deal that offers up on a plate our NHS. It is not for sale. Insight into how employers in the US can turn the tap off on heath insurance should stiffen our resolve to defend our NHS. 

Gail Cartmail is assistant general secretary of Unite.

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