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From The Socialist newspaper, 23 June 2021

Outsourced London hospital workers fight for better pay

Workers on the picket line at Royal London Hospital. Photo: London Socialist Party

Workers on the picket line at Royal London Hospital. Photo: London Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Jakub Kotwica, East London Socialist Party

Catering workers have walked out for five days at the Royal London Hospital, part of Barts NHS Trust in east London. The strike by members of Unite the Union is taking place across all shifts from 21-25 June. Each day of the strike there are lively picket lines near the front entrance of the hospital. And a rally was organised for Thursday 24 June at 12pm to support the striking workers, who are fighting to level their wages to the same as directly employed NHS workers doing the same job.

Socialist Party members, including the workers' union branch secretary Len Hockey, have visited the picket lines every day.

Throughout the pandemic, these essential workers worked continuously helping the sickest and most vulnerable. Many of them contracted Covid which put in danger, not only themselves, but also their families and loved ones. Some of them paid for their dedication with their lives.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic seems to slowly be getting more under control, and despite last year's overwhelming praise for the commitment and value of essential workers, it is apparent that the conditions of their employment is only getting worse. Recently Serco, the private company contracted by Barts to provide catering services, forced on their employees rigid 15-week roster changes that scattered shifts and included split rest days.

As a result, workers have found it impossible to arrange childcare, and some have been prevented from completing college courses. This is taking place on top of the already aggressive use of 'absence triggers' and the abuse of power in allocation of shifts and holiday. All of which workers were enduring throughout the pandemic.

Strikers are asking Barts NHS Trust to support their key workers. On the picket lines they are handing out flyers, asking the community to write directly to senior managers of the trust, and encouraging everybody to take part in the NHS Barts board meeting that takes place on 7 July at 11am.

It is not the first time that outsourced Barts Serco workers have had to go on strike. In September 2017, after 24 days of strike action across four London hospitals, the ancillary workers managed to bring Serco to the negotiating table. Like now, the pickets were alive with chanting, singing, dancing, speeches, and took part in joint action with other strikes in London.

The same determination to fight can see the catering workers win this dispute too.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 23 June 2021:


What we think

Chesham and Amersham by-election


NHS

NHS in crisis - 'It's time for action'

Outsourced London hospital workers fight for better pay

Leicester private healthcare tragedy

Exeter Trades Council backs NHS protests


News

Northern Ireland and Brexit

Sacking non-vaccinated care workers will not save lives

Furlough reduction risks job losses

Building back better? Fight for a socialist recovery

Anti-protest bill breaches human rights

Tories deliberately underfund childcare


Unite election

Unite general secretary contest: Vote for Sharon Graham


NSSN conference 2021

NSSN conference 2021: When given a lead workers will fight


Women

Women and the criminal 'injustice' system

Tory review won't deliver justice for rape victims


International

Iran's presidential election

Are Biden's immigration policies a break with Trump's?


Workplace news

Interview with newly elected Unison NEC member and hospital worker

Gateshead: Bosses sack sparks protesting for safety measures

Oaks Park school strike against bully bosses

Leicestershire engineers' fifth week of strikes against fire and rehire

DVLA dispute: Escalation needed

Warehouse workers fight 50% cut in redundancy pay

Carmarthenshire: Fighting for trade union recognition at council-owned company


Campaigns

TUSC calls for local 'People's Budget' campaigns

Youth Fight For Jobs: more urgent than ever

London Socialist Party young members' day school

'Socialism is the hope of the world'

Fighting Fund target smashed!


Readers' Opinion

Book review: Shuggie Bain

Response to Observer article on China


 

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