Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/25782

Posted on 4 July 2017 at 10:52 GMT

'Jubilant' hospital workers strike against poverty pay in east London

Barts Health Trust strike 4 July 2017 Barts picket line photo Paula Mitchell

Barts Health Trust strike 4 July 2017 Barts picket line photo Paula Mitchell   (Click to enlarge)

Socialist Party reporters

On 4-5 July domestics, porters and security staff at Barts Health Trust in east London, members of Unite the Union, began a campaign of strike action to defend jobs and to break out of poverty pay. If not resolved satisfactorily then another 14 days of action are planned.

This strike is very important coming as it does, with the Tories on the rocks and under pressure over public sector pay. This strike could help to break the pay cap and give confidence to health workers everywhere to fight for better pay and to defend the service against cuts and privatisation.

Since December 2016 services such as catering, cleaning, security and portering have been run by private contractor Serco.

The workers explain: "This is a deal that will cost taxpayers 600 million and lead to Serco making large profits from our hard work. Since Serco have taken over they have planned job cuts at Whipps Cross Hospital, attempted to abolish tea breaks for hard-pressed workers at the Royal London Hospital, increased the workload to unsustainable levels and continued zero-hours contracts despite a commitment not to. Serco profits from our NHS. Their CEO alone earns almost 2 million a year. A cleaner would have to work for almost 100 years to receive this sum." The strikers are fighting for a 30p pay rise.

Barts Health Trust strike 4 July 2017 Royal London picket line photo Paula Mitchell

Barts Health Trust strike 4 July 2017 Royal London picket line photo Paula Mitchell   (Click to enlarge)

On the first day of the strike, at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, already at 6am a crowd was gathering, women and men, mostly black and Asian workers, blowing horns and brimming with confidence. One striker said: "I only joined the union a month ago. This is a really big step for me. I've worked here 14 years and for the first time I don't feel like I'm in my place. I'm exhausted. The work has got so hard. When I get home I don't want to cook, I just want to put my head down. Now we have a union that will fight."

1,100 workers have joined Unite in the last few months as part of a hard-fought campaign to unionise and then fight for better pay and conditions. The record of the porters and domestics at Whipps Cross Hospital, explained in many meetings, has encouraged workers to see that a fighting trade union is possible.

Another striker who wants to remain anonymous says: "Serco is much worse than previous employer Carillion. Serco don't even supply cleaning materials and only two uniforms. They don't want to pay our pension either. Carillion was better but best of all it should be taken back in house."

Barts Health Trust strike 4 July 2017 Mile End picket line photo Paula Mitchell

Barts Health Trust strike 4 July 2017 Mile End picket line photo Paula Mitchell   (Click to enlarge)

Workers are saying pressure needs to be applied to the health trust and the question needs to be asked - 'are they saving money on this contract?'

After the picket lines strikers marched from Mile End and Barts hospitals to the Royal London for a jubilant rally. We marched, danced and chanted around the hospital and then a Unite organiser compered a brilliant rally. He started off saying "this is best picket line I've ever been on". In introducing Unite branch secretary and Socialist Party member Len Hockey, the compere said: "you've heard about BC and AD - well in Barts Trust, as far as Unite is concerned, there's BL and AL."[Before Len/After Len]

Len declared: "I am honoured to be a striking porter in this Unite branch. This union blew the whistle on exploitative conditions. We said it will end. We will organise.

Barts Health Trust strike 4 July 2017 Whipps Cross picket line photo Mary Finch

Barts Health Trust strike 4 July 2017 Whipps Cross picket line photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

Hundreds have joined, zero-hour contract workers finally have a voice. We want a famous victory for east London workers."

Royal London rep Melissa said: "Together we fight. For a pay rise. Against stressful workloads. Fighting together we will win. We are forced to do two to three jobs, which is not good for our health." Pete Cavanagh and Gail Cartmail, Unite regional secretary and national deputy general secretary both also spoke, as did Paul Kershaw, chair of Unite housing branch.

After the speeches we marched round to the Serco offices and danced in the street outside!

At the Whipps Cross Hospital rally there has never been so much singing and dancing at a hospital either! Speakers included Linda Taaffe, secretary of Waltham Forest trades council, a nurse from the hospital, and Socialist Party member Nancy Taaffe.

Barts Health Trust strike 4 July 2017 Len Hockey addresses the strike rally photo Paula Mitchell

Barts Health Trust strike 4 July 2017 Len Hockey addresses the strike rally photo Paula Mitchell   (Click to enlarge)

And Len Hockey addressed the strikers here too: "We say to Serco what we think we're worth and we will fight for that". He reported solidarity messages from as far afield as Malaysia and Australia!

To support the strikers contact len.hockey@unitetheunion.org

If there is no resolution, the strike will start again on Tuesday 11 July for seven days.

There will be a demonstration from the Royal London in Whitechapel to Barts on Saturday 15 July.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 4 July 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Barts:

triangleSerco - not fit for purpose

triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

triangleThe fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

triangleUnison attacks Barts deal after failing to ballot their members for strike action

Strike:

triangleSheffield Eastern Ave Job Centre strike ends

triangleVirgin train workers vote for strike action over pay

trianglePlymouth PCS members fight relocation threat

triangleVirgin train workers ballot for strike action

Workers:

triangleZimbabwe: Mugabe gone - but his regime remains in power

triangleTories on the brink - kick them out!

triangleStrike wave continues with 49 walkout days by housing workers

Poverty:

triangleWe're freezing: reverse cuts to boiler replacement schemes!

triangleChild poverty set to hit 5.2m - unions and Corbyn must act now

Pay:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

Hospital:

triangleChatsworth neuro-rehab ward still open - unions join the campaign

London:

triangleHackney Socialist Party: Catalonia - Your chance to pose questions

East London:

triangleEast London Socialist Party: How can free education be won?

Unite:

triangleNo more excuses: fit sprinklers now!

Union:

triangleWarrington Socialist Party: The battle of Winwick Quay

Health:

triangleHealth campaign discusses strategy to save NHS

Whipps Cross:

triangleDeal concludes Barts health strike - "We have raised our heads high"

Cuts:

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

Carillion:

triangleVictory! Health workers walk out against attack from boss

NHS:

triangleBirmingham South East Socialist Party: NHS in Meltdown - What can be done?

Trade union:

triangleObituary: Derek Robinson, car workers' leader, 1927-2017

Privatisation:

triangleCorbyn must challenge pro-gentrification council leader or others will

Hospitals:

triangleTories wreck our NHS

Len Hockey:

triangleBarts strike - 'Up the ante' if necessary

Public sector:

triangleBosses say 217 years to close pay gap - workers' struggle can close it now!

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/11/17

Sheffield

Sheffield Eastern Ave Job Centre strike ends

16/11/17

Virgin

Virgin train workers vote for strike action over pay

15/11/17

Students

March for free education! We demand a future!

15/11/17

Plymouth

Plymouth PCS members fight relocation threat

15/11/17

Virgin

Virgin train workers ballot for strike action

15/11/17

Carlisle

Carlisle socialists campaign against Universal Credit

15/11/17

Haringey

Corbyn must challenge pro-gentrification council leader or others will

15/11/17

Socialist Party

Why I joined the Socialist Party: "I started to question whether there was a better way"

13/11/17

Manchester

Strike wave continues with 49 walkout days by housing workers

10/11/17

RMT

Strikers picket the South Western Railway network

10/11/17

Merseyside

Huge support for strikes of bus drivers and train guards

10/11/17

Socialist Party

Highest ever ticket sales for Socialism event

9/11/17

Pay

Serco - not fit for purpose

9/11/17

Rail

Fight to keep guards on trains continues despite setback Aslef deal

8/11/17

Birmingham

Brum meeting celebrates centenary of 1917

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle21 Nov Zimbabwe: Mugabe gone - but his regime remains in power

triangle15 Nov March for free education! We demand a future!

triangle15 Nov Tories on the brink - kick them out!

Socialism 2017

triangle14 Nov Socialism 2017: Organising to fight back

triangle13 Nov Strike wave continues with 49 walkout days by housing workers

triangle10 Nov US: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis

triangle10 Nov Strikers picket the South Western Railway network

More ...

triangle21 Nov Bristol North Socialist Party: Venezuela - the battle to be faced by a Corbyn government?

triangle21 Nov Cardiff Socialist Students: Socialism and the struggle for LGBT rights

triangle21 Nov Birmingham South East Socialist Party: NHS in Meltdown - What can be done?

triangle21 Nov Sheffield North Socialist Party: The causes of capitalist crisis

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2