The Socialist 7 July 2021 |
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Royal London Hospital strike win
Serco backs down and offers major concessions
Workers on the picket line at Royal London Hospital. Photo: London Socialist Party (Click to enlarge)
Strike action at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, involving back-of-house catering staff, has been suspended after outsourcing company Serco capitulated to most of the workers' demands.
The workers took five days of strike last month to stop the new, unworkable roster system and also challenge bullying. Workers had been trying to resolve the issues for a year before walking out.
Following talks at the conciliation service Acas, Serco has now agreed to adopt a workable roster system, and the manager accused of bullying will be moved from the department and provided with training.
As a consequence, Unite has suspended the latest five-day strike, which was due to start on 5 July. A further five days of strike action are scheduled for Monday 12 July, but Unite will call off this action once the deal is finalised.
Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: "This is a tremendous victory for our members who have stood together and faced down Serco."
Socialist Party members, including the workers' union branch secretary Len Hockey, 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.
It was 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, and speeches, and took part in joint action with other strikes in London.
The same determination to fight has seen the catering workers win this dispute too.