Socialist Worker

Strikers battle against low pay misery in NHS

Issue No. 1859

HOSPITAL WORKERS in Bolton were set to be on strike again this week against one of the NHS's biggest private contractors, ISS Mediclean. They planned to strike on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and another three days next week.

'Speakers from hospitals around the north west spoke at last week's strike rally,' reports Paul Marins. 'There were also representatives from the FBU, NUT, Amicus-MSF, Bolton Metro Unison and Bolton trades council.'

That solidarity has boosted the 150 low paid porters and cleaners at the Royal Bolton Hospital. They are fighting one of the vicious contractors that leech off the NHS. Another such company is the multinational Carillion. They have offered low paid workers in North Lincolnshire just £4.75 an hour with an added 10p an hour bonus dependent on performance.

These workers have been taking strike action since April to get £5.02 an hour. Carillion raked in over £50 million in profits last year. Its fat cat chief executive John McDonagh got a £141,000 bonus-for sitting on his arse. Porters, cleaners and caterers would have to work for 677 years to get that under the proposed 10p an hour bonus scheme.

The Unison union has now suspended the North Lincolnshire workers' strikes, which cover three hospitals in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole. The workers are meeting to discuss Carillion's offer and will vote on it in a two-week postal ballot. Further, harder hitting strike action could force this mean-spirited multinational to pay up more.

Other workers have forced the privateers to pay at least £5 an hour and sometimes more. These include disputes in Glasgow, east London and elsewhere. A further dispute over low pay has been taking place at Whipps Cross hospital in east London.

Over 300 workers were due to strike on Thursday and Friday of this week. The ISS Mediclean bosses had called union reps into a meeting to consider a new offer as Socialist Worker went to press. There is a mood of anger against low pay and privatisation in hospitals and NHS workplaces around Britain. Now solidarity needs to be stepped up to ensure that anger is not thrown away.

North Lincolnshire: c/o J Koper, 44 Cliff Gardens, Scunthorpe DN15. Cheques payable to Scunthorpe Health Branch Hardship Fund.
Whipps Cross: Unison Office, Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, London E11.
Bolton: Bolton Unison Health Fund, Royal Bolton Hospital, Bolton BL4 0JR. Cheques payable to Unison Strike Fund RBH.

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Article information

Sat 12 Jul 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1859
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