Talks are expected between NHS privateer Serco and striking Barts health workers as we go to press with the next strike set for 6am on 18 August. The workers, members of Unite the Union, have just completed another solid round of strike action, this time they were out for a fortnight.
There has been fantastic coverage in the press, solidarity action at Serco offices in Europe and on 3 August a coordinated day of action with other Unite members on strike at the Bank of England and British Airways mixed fleet cabin crew.
The day started with a lively demonstration outside a Serco shareholders’ meeting. The meeting was taking place in the London HQ of Serco’s accountants, JP Morgan.
After protesting against Serco, the strikers marched together to the office of the Civil Aviation Authority for a second rally, and the handing in of a letter from the cabin crew. The day ended with the strikers joining the picket line outside the Bank of England.
The determined Barts workers have previously also struck for three days and seven days in July and had a 1,000-strong march through east London on 15 July. “Serco made an £82 million profit last year and its CEO was paid £1 million,” a Unite rep told the rally outside JP Morgan. Yet the company is refusing to give a below-inflation increase of 30p an hour.
Len Hockey, Unite branch secretary for the four Barts Trust hospitals and a member of the Socialist Party, spoke at all three rallies. He applauded the “magnificent action so far” and welcomed the linking up of the three strikes against low pay.
Some ideas to discuss for the rest of dispute are:
- More protests can be planned, what about holding big rallies at each hospital in turn?
- A protest could be organised at the next meeting of Barts Trust to pressure them to intervene
- Use buckets and collection sheets to go out to the public and local workplaces – this is already being done with great success
- We must use the opportunity of being together on picket lines to discuss the strike
- Hospital workers in other departments could be asked to take signs, stickers and collection sheets