There was a carnival atmosphere in the town square in Barnstaple last Saturday as workers in the North Devon Healthcare Trust in the Unison union celebrated their stunning victory over their employers, Sodexo.
This group of low paid health workers has been fighting since 2006 for back pay and sickness benefit owed to them by the company.
Workers paid tribute to their union in facing down Sodexo and winning their demands – a payment of up to £3,600, a salary increase from 1 January 2010 and sick pay.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said, “ I am proud of our members for making a stand. This action has shown what can be achieved when members stay solid and determined.”
Unison should back action everywhere against low pay.
There were solidarity greetings from workers in the US where Sodexo have a school meals contract and also from local unions.
The Mayor of Bideford, whose wife had been on strike, began by saying, “Fear not the rain, for it falls harder on your bosses”.
Mark Harper, chair of Unison health branch north Devon said “This is what a group of low paid workers can achieve.
“It shows other workers in the NHS and elsewhere that they can fight – and they can win.”