Some 50 striking workers in the GMB union marched and blockaded the central London headquarters of their employer Carillion today (Tuesday).
The workers are cleaners and caterers at Swindon’s Great Western hospital, where Carillion runs the facilities management contract.
Strikers say a culture of racism, bullying and corruption has set in at the hospital. They started three days of strikes yesterday and plan a further strike from Monday to Wednesday next week.
Carole Vallelly is a GMB organiser working with the Carillion cleaners. “This is the face of things to come in the NHS,” she told Socialist Worker.
The functioning of the NHS is being “split up into private companies”, she added. This pits workers against each other and creates the conditions for the kind of harassment faced by the Carillion cleaners.
One of the strikers spoke to Socialist Worker anonymously. The Carillion cleaning and catering staff were mostly from Goa in India, they explained.
This means holiday arrangements are particularly important so they can visit their families over Christmas and for reasonable lengths of time.
The workers’ grievances were particularly directed against one Carillion manager, who has since resigned.
Carole added that Carillion had presided over “an ingrained culture of racism” at the hospital. Managers had ignored a workers’ representative elected by the cleaners and caterers—and appointed one of the few white workers to the role instead.
Carillion has said it is investigating the workers’ complaints and hopes to make its conclusions known by the end of the week.