Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/308/12632
Healthworkers say: We're Fighting For A Living Wage
LOW-PAID domestics and porters at Royal Bolton Hospital are entering a new phase of struggle. Fighting the poverty pay of multinational company ISS Mediclean, UNISON members have struck at the heart of low pay, privatisation, and profiteering in the health service. Strike action is going ahead this week and next.
Health workers employed by ISS at Whipps Cross Hospital, northeast London are also due to take strike action on 10 and 11 July in their ongoing struggle against low pay and poor conditions.
Hugh Caffrey, Manchester Socialist Party told the socialist:
"ISS at Royal Bolton Hospital are determined to break the dispute. Over the weekend, 15-20 scabs were brought in through the Blue Arrow agency and paid over £6 an hour plus dinner money. Before, ISS was paying £70 a night for scab hotel accommodation.
"Clearly, the money is there. ISS are refusing to concede a union-led pay claim for fear this will inspire other workers to lodge similar claims. At stake is the capacity of workers to defend and extend their pay and conditions from the current meagre level".
"Profit is their motivation, as we have come to know well," said strikers. "Anything that costs money, they do not like. They think we will just go away and get fed up of striking and go back to work with our tails between our legs. They are wrong. We have come too far to go back now."
Hugh adds: "ISS has many contracts in the health service and already these disputes are widening. This is a national issue, and the key task is to develop a national union response led by the strikers".
The Bolton strikers have set up a website
Send info, donations and messages of support.
Write to: UNISON Health Fund, Union Office, Royal Bolton Hospital, Farnworth, Bolton, Lancs, BL4 ORJ.
Messages of support and donations to: Len Hockey, UNISON Office, Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, London E11 1NR.
Cheques payable to: UNISON ISS Whipps Cross Hardship Fund.
ISS poverty pay rates
- Porters at Whipps Cross £4.73 an hour.
- Domestics at Whipps Cross £4.62 an hour.
- Porters at Royal Bolton £4.61 an hour.
- Domestics at Royal Bolton £4.47 an hour.
The government secured a majority of just 35 in the vote over Foundation Hospitals. 62 Labour MPs rebelled - a higher number than anticipated.
This shows that MPs are feeling the pressure from trade unionists and the wider community over this new form of privatisation in the NHS.
In The Socialist 12 July 2003: