Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/397/4846
Liverpool hospital workers
Striking against the two-tier workforce
OVER 600 caterers, porters and domestics at Aintree Hospital NHS Trust were on strike on 13 June. The strike coincided with a visit by Prince Edward.
Andy Ford, Amicus North Manchester NHS branch, personal capacity
The workers, who are members of UNISON, GMB and TGWU, are employed by Initial Hospital Services, not the NHS. They want equal pay with directly employed NHS staff who are set to get Agenda for Change pay rates. Agenda for Change excludes directors, doctors and dentists - and the thousands of NHS staff whose jobs have been contracted out.
NHS staff also get sick pay, which is denied to the Initial staff. The two-tier workforce, whereby different groups of workers are paid at different rates as a result of privatisation, is supposed to have been abolished under the Warwick Agreement between the trade union leaders and the Labour Party. But the fact that workers are having to strike against it shows just how hollow the Warwick Agreement is.
The workers were joined by 50 workers from the Walton site, who are employed by Synergy to provide a sterile supplies service. They want to preserve NHS terms and conditions. Some patients also joined the enthusiastic picket.
The Initial Hospital Services staff are set to strike again on 19 and 20 June if no progress is made, and the Synergy workers are considering indefinite strike action from 20 June.
In The Socialist 16 June 2005: