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:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleCarlisle NHS campaigners hand in petition to MP

triangleNHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

triangleToo much to cross the Mersey

triangleTories wreck our NHS

Hospital:

triangleChatsworth ward campaign replies to Tory MP's intervention

triangleBerlin hospital strike

triangleHuddersfield A&E closure goes to judicial review

Liverpool:

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: Racism and capitalism, the link

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: The Marxist view of history

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

12/10/17

Cleaners

Justice for Tube cleaners demo

11/10/17

Salford

Salford Unison condemns pay cuts

11/10/17

Royal Mail

CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

11/10/17

Carlisle

Carlisle NHS campaigners hand in petition to MP

11/10/17

Green

Don't wreck our rec! Campaigning to save green space in Standish

11/10/17

Fire

No more fire deaths - ensure safety now!

11/10/17

Cardiff

Cardiff Socialist Students confront 'Parasite' Jacob Rees-Mogg

11/10/17

John McDonnell

Manchester rally discussed unionisation and nationalisation

11/10/17

Orgreave

Join the Orgreave Halloween rally

11/10/17

Union

Workplace news in brief

11/10/17

Democratic rights

Who's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

6/10/17

Northern Ireland

Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

5/10/17

Runcorn

Too much to cross the Mersey

4/10/17

Royal Mail

Set for national strike action

4/10/17

London

Supporting the general strike in Catalonia

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


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

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle17 Oct London: TUC lobby & rally; and London march

triangle18 Oct Warrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

triangle18 Oct Hackney Socialist Party: 100 years ago - the Bolshevik-led revolution

triangle18 Oct Tower Hamlets Socialist Party: Capitalism in Crisis - is Corbyn the answer?

More ...

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

Archive

Archives:

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