Socialist Worker

Tayside NHS porters launch all-out strike

Issue No. 2448

porters and their supporters rallied in Dundee last Saturday

Porters and their supporters rallied in Dundee last Saturday (Pic: Carlo Morelli)

Around 300 people joined a march and rally in support of hospital porters at Ninewells and Victoria Hospitals in Dundee last Saturday. The porters began an indefinite strike on Tuesday of this week. 

Solidarity and common struggle in the fight for decent pay was the theme of the rally.

There were speakers from different unions, including from the Glasgow Homeless Caseworkers strike. 

The porters fighting against the refusal by NHS Tayside to address their claim of historical misgrading and underpayment. 

The dispute flows from local implementation of the health service’s Agenda for Change grading mechanism.

Around 120 porters believe they are victims of unfair implementation of the scheme that saw them be the only porters in Scotland on grade 1, while others are on grade 2.

The Unite union members welcome solidarity from the wider movement and are prepared to send delegations across the country to raise support.

Unite recently fought off moves by bosses to go to court to try and have the strike ruled illegal. 

The employer has refused to negotiate and has been trying to organise a scabbing operation to undermine the strike.


In a staggering twist, leaders of the local Unison union health branch have lined up with management in attacking the strikers. They even used Unison regional health committee to try to discourage other Unison members and branches from supporting the strike.

But health workers in Unison argued against their branch position and defied it to join other local Unison branches at the rally.

There is evidence there is some employer collusion with the SNP Scottish government. 

Local MSP and Scottish health minister Shona Robison had alluded to knowledge of the Unison position in a meeting with strikers before it had become public. 

Yet there was no evidence of SNP support at Saturday’s rally, in Dundee, the Yes City of last year’s referendum campaign.

Local Unison activist and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate, Jim McFarlane, spoke at the rally. 

He argued for a struggle against the austerity peddled by the Tories but implemented by the SNP Scottish government and both SNP and Labour councils.

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Article information

Tue 7 Apr 2015, 17:52 BST
Issue No. 2448
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