Barts strike. Photo: London SP

On 13 May, over 100 low-paid striking NHS workers protested outside NHS England offices in south London. It was the first day in a week of pickets and protests, part of the latest phase of strike action in the long-running dispute with Barts NHS Trust and contractor Synergy.

Workers were greeted by security guards who, within moments, were surrounded by women strikers and a cacophony of vuvuzelas. Speaking to the protest, NSSN Chair Rob Williams asked the bosses inside: “Rather than sending down security guards, why don’t you just come down and talk to the union and sort out paying up, sort out this dispute?”

The workers, Unite members, are demanding the £1,600 lump-sum payment that other NHS workers, their colleagues, received during Covid but which they have been denied.

The workers are targeting NHS bosses, protesting outside their workplaces and offices. This include chair of Barts NHS Trust, and former Labour Home Secretary under Gordon Brown, Jacqui Smith.

Speaking to the protest, Unite lead officer Onay Kasab said: “Your employers are not happy, because having their faces on placards is ‘not in the spirit of things’.

“It’s not in the spirit of things to deny £1,600 from low-paid workers. There is no legal reason why you cannot be paid. It comes down to the will, it comes down to a political choice. We are making the choice to fight and we have the will to win. We are deciding we are going to carry on until we win!”