Serve Yourself Right, Interserve

Take yourself back to September 2009: the Office of Fair Trading had just unearthed evidence “of widespread and endemic illegal and anti-competitive practices, many of which involved tendering for publicly funded projects” in the construction industry.

The investigation, which had focused primarily on the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside regions, ended by dishing up their two largest fines to the Kier Group (£17.9 million) and Interserve (£11.6 million).

In late 2012, Leicester’s hospital bosses then rewarded Interserve with a tidy £300 million support service contract.


Now it seems that after three years of attacking the pay and conditions of our local hospital workers — and generally acting against the public interest in the name of shareholder profits — Interserve have had their NHS contract terminated, four years ahead of schedule (February 9, Leicester Mercury). This is surely good news.

Nevertheless the Labour Party’s Foundation Trust initiatives still wreak havoc with our health services nationally, with hospitals being forced into the bizarre position of having to compete with each other for funding. This is not to mention Labour’s excited embrace of PFI privatisation schemes (better regarded as Profit From Illness) which facilitated the ongoing corporate plunder of our healthcare system.

Sadly, it looks like public services will be a thing of the past if we don’t intervene soon to protect them from corporate profiteers.

Jeremy Corbyn may be making pleasant sounding noises about reversing privatisation in the NHS, but at present only the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition stands for a properly funded, high-quality, free National Health Service under democratic public ownership and control.

Moreover, despite the occasional embarrassment, Interserve is going from strength-to-strength. For example, when they took on the NHS contract in Leicester in 2012 they employed around 50,000 people worldwide, while now they reportedly employ some 80,000 workers.

To rub yet more salt in the wounds of their ill-treated employees, only last summer the Mercury reported that Interserve had won another £200 million contract to build the new Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) at Stanford Hall, near Loughborough (June 29).

Astoundingly, Interserve have even branched out into the world of education, and in 2014 their so-called Interserve Academies Trust began a sponsorship deal with an academy in Leeds. Surely this can only end in tears for everyone?

This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on February 9.

In a subsequent article in the Leicester Mercury (February 10) titled “’Staff feel like throwing a party’ as £300 million Interserve contract is scrapped,” Colin Whyatt, from the GMB union, pointed out how Interserve had brought in zero hours contracts and changed shift patterns. He added:

“I hope the trust has learnt its lesson. This contract has ruined people’s lives. Some have been off with work related stress and other have been incorrectly paid for years.”


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