Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/399/4920

From The Socialist newspaper, 30 June 2005

Organising against the two-tier workforce

SIX HUNDRED caterers, laundry workers and domestics were on strike at Aintree Hospital, Liverpool, on 20 and 21 June. They are members of GMB, TGWU and UNISON.

Andy Ford, Amicus North Manchester NHS Branch, personal capacity

They held a lively, colourful and good-natured demonstration and picket outside the Aintree University Hospital Trust. Around 50 workers, in their brightly coloured uniforms - red for the laundry, blue for the caterers, and yellow for the domestics - chanted and blew whistles at each of the two gates into the hospital.

Passing cars and lorries and visitors showed their support and were met with cheers from the assembled workers. The strikers have been joined by NHS staff, and at times even patients.

Despite the fact that the 350 domestics, 40 laundry workers and 100 or so caterers work at Aintree Hospital they are not NHS employees. They are employed by Initial Hospital services, part of the giant Rentokil empire. Workers told me that they have been employed by three different companies over recent years - RCO, ISS, and now Initial.

A union rep explained to me the pay differences between the NHS staff and the Initial employees: "We're on the minimum wage - 4.85 an hour. The NHS minimum is 5.87 after Agenda for Change. If it's supposed to be equal pay for work of equal value we should be on 5.87 as well", she said.

The workers were offered 5.00 an hour in April, but the national minimum wage is due to increase to 5.05 per hour later this year anyway. When the workforce rejected 5 and instructed the unions to go ahead with a strike ballot, the company offered to bring forward the extra 5p and backdate it to April this year. 40p a day more for calling off the strike! And they would still have been left on the minimum wage.

On holidays and sick pay it's not much better. "We get minimum holidays, 20 days", said the union steward. "The hospital staff are going to get 27 days, 33 after 10 years service. And we only get 12 days sick pay, but the NHS has a proper sick pay system.

"We were getting nowhere. The Trust say they've got no money, Initial say they've got no money, and the contract's got a fixed price. So, we're out here".

But Initial do have money for some people. Doug Flynn, Rentokil Initial's Chief Executive, is to be paid 800,000 in this year, with up to another 800,000 in bonus. With bonuses he could be on 30,000 a week - over 750 an hour.

His predecessor, James Wilde, was removed after profits fell by 14% in 2004 - and he still got more than 1 million as a 'golden goodbye'.

Nearly all the Initial workers are in one or other of the trade unions. The unions picked up the last few non-members in the build-up to the dispute. The strike ballot was won by 97.5%, and workers said that they have never been so united. The joint trade unions were convening a mass meeting after the strike to decide on the next move.

Aintree is not the only trust where contract workers have decided to make a stand against exploitation. A dispute at the Norfolk and Norwich trust went to arbitration after the threat of strike action pushed Serco into moving from 4.85 to 5.60 an hour.

What happens at Aintree and Norwich is important. There are thousands of contract workers across the NHS, all on minimum wages, holidays and sick pay. The two disputes prove that where NHS contracted-out workers are organised, united and determined they can make big advances in pay and conditions.

The mass meeting was told that Initial have offered to improve pay to 5.50 an hour. Union officials asked the workers to accept the increase and hold off further action until the end of July, when they expect developments on the government's pledges on ending the two-tier workforce. We will see.

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


In The Socialist 30 June 2005:

Workers and poor rise up against poverty

Sri Lanka: The struggle for survival and justice goes on

Capitalism means poverty and exploitation

CWI - who we are - what we fight for

Iraq sinks deeper into the quagmire

How can we change the world?

Fight for a socialist plan

Socialism 2005

ISR - youth on the march

The struggle for socialism in Scotland

Make Homophobia and Capitalism History!

Organising against the two-tier workforce

Labour declares war on the NHS

Fiery speeches but bland policy statements


 

Home   |   The Socialist 30 June 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

NHS:

triangleSouth London health bosses' cover-up

triangleTotnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangleSave our NHS

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleTyneside walk-in closures postponed after rally

Hospital:

triangleGlenfield victory shows people power can save our NHS

triangleTyneside to protest against A&E and walk-in cuts

triangle'Hands around HRI' to save Huddersfield A&E

Liverpool:

triangleStrikers rally in Liverpool

triangleLiverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/12/17

Haringey

Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

16/12/17

North West

Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

14/12/17

Waltham Forest

Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

13/12/17

London

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

13/12/17

Fracking

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

13/12/17

Devon

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

13/12/17

Miners

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

13/12/17

Bradford

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

13/12/17

South London

South London health bosses' cover-up

13/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite day of action against blacklisting

13/12/17

Brighton

Brighton victory

13/12/17

Newham

Newham anti-academies strikes

13/12/17

Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting

12/12/17

Woolwich

Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


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

triangle16 Dec Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangle16 Dec Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

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

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

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