Barts NHS strike. Photo: James Ivens
Barts NHS strike. Photo: James Ivens

Unite members at Barts NHS Trust will be taking to the picket lines again, from 29 January to 9 February.

Workers in portering, cleaning, catering and other ‘soft services’ across five east London hospitals, plus members working for Synergy (a company providing linen services), plan to be out for all 12 days. Other Unite members such as nurses and pathologists will be out for four days.

Unite reps met on 11 January to reaffirm their commitment to fight for members who did not get the lump sum for working through Covid that other health workers received.

Since the ballot in August 2023, more workers have joined the union and more have become reps.

The union is also campaigning for safe staffing levels and the employer has now been forced to discuss this more seriously. Unite reports some progress on the several other issues that workers have been fighting over – such as bank rates and unsocial hours premiums – but more is needed.

Strength of action

Just before Christmas, Len Hockey, Unite branch secretary, told strikers:

“The Trust is beginning to respond in a more meaningful way because of your strike action. From nothing, 14 reps have come forward in Pathology, such is the strength and confidence gained from your action.

“But the lump sum issue has still to be resolved. We said to the employer: You’ve got a workforce in the second-biggest trust in England, overwhelmingly female, overwhelmingly migrant workers, who are grossly discriminated against. You better step up.”