Aramark workers striking for the living wage

Aramark slammed by workers striking for the living wage

Roger Shrives, Lewisham Socialist Party

Lively, and at times noisy, strike action hit the NHS in south London on 21 March. It wasn’t the junior doctors or the student nurses but the catering, cleaning and ‘hostessing’ staff at four mental health hospitals in the South London and Maudsley (SLAM) group.

Strikers at Maudsley, Bethlem Royal, Lewisham and Lambeth units, all members of the GMB union, were loudly ‘slamming’ their privatising, cost-cutting, US owned employer Aramark and telling them to pay a living wage!

Collin, who was picketing Lewisham hospital, said most workers there were on £7-£8 an hour for very hard work. They are demanding £10 an hour and better deals on sick pay and unsocial hours payments. Sick pay has been abolished for many newer workers, which obviously makes for great anxiety. They also want increased pay for weekends and bank holidays.

This is the first strike ever in Aramark’s British concerns. Junior doctors and nursing staff at Lewisham came and wished them well. This lively protest showed the potential for a huge trade union and political campaign to rescue the NHS from Tory attacks and poverty pay.