Health Workers Strike At Sick Wages

IN RECENT weeks, low-paid hospital workers at Whipps Cross hospital, east London, at the Royal Bolton Hospital in Lancashire and at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole hospitals trust, have been striking for NHS pay and conditions for staff employed by privatised companies.

Whipps Cross workers were on strike from 18-20 June. The porters, domestics and cleaning staff, who work for ISS Mediclean, were striking for a living wage and for NHS conditions.

Socialist Party members Jane James, Kevin Parslow and Linda Taaffe spoke at the picket line rally, bringing solidarity greetings from the Socialist Party and local TGWU and NUT branches.

Len Hockey, UNISON joint branch secretary spoke to the socialist:

“When we started this campaign a year ago we had 62 people in UNISON out of 360. Today, through this campaign we’ve now got 264 members. When we started you couldn’t get a representative of the Trust to accept any responsibility for the disgraceful pay rates operating in this hospital. Now they’ve accepted that low pay is a problem.

“The Health Authority would say: ‘There’s no more money and it’s down to the private contractors anyway.’ As a result of our campaign we have a commitment in writing that they’ll harmonise pay with NHS workers by April 2006.

“That’s far too far away but they’re only saying that because of the pressure we’ve exerted. So whatever happens, the campaign is already vindicated. We work alongside their doctors and their nurses in their hospital and they cannot walk away from their responsibility towards us.”

The employers have offered £5 an hour but the NHS has evaluated all the jobs recently and concluded the rate should be £5.35 an hour, plus London Weighting. If that’s good enough for NHS workers then that’s good enough for ISS workers.

Even if ISS paid the same percentage rise as they recently gave to workers at nearby Homerton hospital, Whipps Cross workers would be on about £5.22 an hour.

The UNISON branch has a mass meeting on 26 June, to consider further action, if the employers do not respond.

“WE’RE OUT here to make the point that the pay we’re getting is absolutely insulting and degrading. Less than £5 an hour is a joke. I’m a porter. I’ve worked here since before it was privatised, so I’m not on the worst pay – there’s even two tiers of low pay here.”

Don, a porter

“I’M VERY happy that so many people have come out on strike and come here to support us. Everybody knows how bad our pay is and how we’re fighting for a decent rate. Mediclean say they haven’t got money in their pockets but we say we have rights.”

Kola, a domestic worker

Messages of support and donations to: Len Hockey, UNISON office, Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, London E11 1NR.

email: [email protected]

Cheques payable to: “UNISON ISS Whipps Cross Hardship Fund”.

Bolton Hospital Strike

STAFF AT the Royal Bolton Hospital were on strike for three days this week, again over low pay.

These workers, also employed by ISS Mediclean, are demanding £5 an hour for cleaners and £5.60 for porters, from £4.47 and £4.61 respectively.

Another three days of strike action is planned from 30 June-2 July.

Messages of support to: Mike Phillips (UNISON) The Royal Bolton Hospital, Farnworth, Bolton. BL4 0JR.