SOME 500 cleaners, porters and telephonists in Swansea were to vote this week on an improved offer from their private bosses, ISS Mediclean. Some workers are angry at their Unison union officials for calling off a planned week-long strike. More could have been won, but the Swansea workers have shown that action is getting results in the health service.
Three days of strikes by the workers and the threat of escalating the action forced the firm to come up with a much improved pay offer. The offer gives porters an 8 percent rise, from £4.88 an hour to £5.14 an hour. Cleaners' pay will rise from the miserable £4.10 an hour they currently get to £4.62 an hour.
These rates will be linked to and rise with NHS pay rates every year. There will be some improvements in holiday entitlements and other conditions. This deal falls short of the £5 an hour won by ancillary workers in recent disputes in Scotland.
It leaves cleaners on well below £5 an hour, and some porters will lose out on the rates they get for night work. But nevertheless the strikes are the latest in the NHS which have broken through.
Workers at Glasgow Royal Infirmary recently beat multinational firm Sodexho. Now Swansea workers have forced back ISS Mediclean, one of the six biggest private sharks gobbling up profits from our health service.
ANCILLARY WORKERS at Scotland's first PFI privatisation hospital, Hairmyres in East Kilbride, who also work for ISS Mediclean, were set to strike on Thursday of this week. Like workers in Swansea, the workers' jobs at Hairmyres were sold off to ISS Mediclean under the terms of a PFI deal. Some workers earn as little as £4.38 an hour.
The Hairmyres PFI scheme has been a disaster for patients. It has been criticised for having too few beds, suffering sewage leaks, losing patient records and failing IT systems. The 200 ancillary workers voted to strike by 91 percent. They are demanding a minimum wage of £5 an hour, plus a return to full NHS terms and conditions.
The first day of strike action will be followed by a two-day strike on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
Send messages of support and donations to Lanarkshire Acute Hospitals Unison, Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride, Glasgow G75. Phone 01355 585 805. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org