STRIKE ACTION by 150 domestics and porters at the Royal Bolton Hospital has forced the private contractor ISS Mediclean to increase their pay. Bosses offered the domestics and porters £5 an hour after a series of strikes. The domestics used to get £4.47 an hour and porters were on £4.61 an hour. The deal includes other improvements on sick pay and holidays. The deal was accepted by 105 votes to 18.
'We think strike action got us this deal,' said Mike Phillips, a Unison member at Bolton. The management wouldn't even speak to us before. They ignored us for seven months and now we have got a 10.25 percent increase across the board. It's the first rung on the ladder for future negotiations.'
The recent disputes of low paid health workers - in east London, North Lincolnshire and Bolton - have shown that fighting back can win. Nevertheless these health workers still have to survive on poverty pay.
Certainly no group of workers should settle for anything less than a £5 an hour minimum rate - which has become a benchmark figure across the NHS. Above all, the recent gains show that we need more strikes.
Union leaders should not only be calling for action and organising solidarity for individual groups of workers. They should be calling national action against low pay and organising a campaign to kick all the profiteering private firms out of the NHS.