Some 150 workers at Ealing hospital began a seven day strike today, Friday, to demand better pay.
The strikers are porters, domestic, catering, and help desk workers employed by Compass Medirest.
They currently receive only £6.31 an hour—44 percent below the lowest comparable NHS rate in
And despite many domestic staff working with medical waste which puts them at risk of infection, the workers are granted no annual sick pay.
“It’s really hard work we do, and we don’t get paid if we get sick—it’s not right” striker Sunita told Socialist Worker.
There was a steady stream of support towards the picket line as passing buses, ambulances and cars beeped in support of the strikers.
“Nurse and doctors are behind us,” Domingo Fernandez, GMB union rep at the hospital told Socialist Worker.
“When we showed doctors our pay slips they couldn’t believe how low paid we are and that we get no sick leave.”
The workers have already struck for a total of four days this year alone in the row over pay.
They decided to escalate after talks with bosses did not deliver their demands of fair pay, sick pay for one week on full pay plus 3 weeks half pay.
“Bosses got quite a shock when we announced we were going on seven day strike,” said Domingo.
“We took around a petition and everyone in the union said they wanted to strike again.”
Bosses offered them a rise to £8.80 in 2015—but Domingo said that wasn’t good enough.
“A lot of these workers have been here for many years, might not be working here then.”
Bosses tried to divide workers in the run up to the strike. Domingo said, “They said to some workers, ‘Don’t go on strike, if you want anything you shouldn’t strike.’”
Many of the workers on strike are from the local Asian community who have worked at the hospital for many years.
Some 5,000 people marched to save Ealing hospital when the A&E was under threat of closure in 2012. Hospital workers also joined the march.
“We all came together to save the A&E when it was under threat of closure, we were united then, and we have unity now,” said Domingo.