Socialist Worker

Reports round-up: Demand healthcare for all

Issue No. 2647

The protest at Barts Health Trust in east London

The protest at Barts Health Trust in east London (Pic: Kambiz Boomla)

Some 100 people marched on Friday from the East London Mosque to the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel to protest against the hostile environment for migrants at Barts Health NHS Trust.

Health workers and anti?racist activists handed in a letter to the trust deputy chief executive. It called on Barts to stop sharing data about patients with the Home Office and asking them to prove their immigration status.

We demanded the hospital to suspend up-front charging of patients before treatment, and to promote a welcoming environment for patients.

Health workers have previously spoken of patients denied care, and who have later been found to be eligible. Speeches before the march were given by Jusna, a witness to a recent nearby racist attack, and from Rafique Ullah, a longstanding anti-racist campaigner in Tower Hamlets.

Dr Jackie Applebee spoke on behalf of Tower Hamlets British Medical Association.

Speakers linked the hostile environment to creating an atmosphere where racist attacks could happen.

Kambiz Boomla

Wage fight for ISS workers

Outsourced workers at Kingston hospital in west London were set to protest on Wednesday this week.

Cleaners, domestics, porters and other support staff in the GMB union are demanding that multinational ISS gives them sick pay. They also want the London Living Wage, currently £10.55 per hour.

There has been a series of protests over the issue.

If ISS bosses don’t back down under the mounting pressure, strikes could force them to cough up.

Pay battles on Overground

London Overground is set to be disrupted in April as two groups of workers gear up for strikes.

Cleaners, employed by Vinci, are set for a 48-hour walkout from 4 April. And Travel Safe Officers who work for STM Group are planning to strike on 2 April.

Both groups are members of the RMT union. They plan a joint demonstration outside Arriva Rail London’s headquarters.

The cleaners were transferred from Carillion after its collapse and are fighting against poor pay and conditions. Mick Cash, RMT general secretary blasted “rail companies who are making a fortune out of Britain’s privatised railways.”

“Workers should not be shunted around from one failing company to another in the interests of corporate profit,” he said.

Travel Safe Officers are fighting a pay freeze which “would effectively mean poverty pay for these essential workers”.

Top marks for Shrewsbury

Workers voted to postpone a planned strike at Shrewsbury Colleges Group last week.

The dispute centres on lesson observation grading. Following the merger of two colleges the management sought to introduce one policy across the sites.

Grading is subjective, unreliable and makes teachers stressed before observations and potentially devastated after receiving a poor grade.

The fact that Ofsted no longer grades lessons gave us a strong argument to fight for an ungraded, purely developmental system.

The management has now written a new policy and NEU union members are considering the new offer.

We have had five days of solid strike action.

The picket lines have been strong and post-picket meetings have shown enormous solidarity and have strengthened our resolve.

Jean Evanson

Pay victory at Gatwick airport

HGV drivers based at Gatwick airport have won an 18 percent pay increase after threatening to strike.

The Unite union members were due to stage a 48-hour walkout from 27 March. Alongside the pay increase, they have won a 30 minute reduction in the working week and a £420 lump sum.

Looking at health and housing link

A conference this Saturday is set to look at the relationship between housing and health.

Speakers at Bad Housing Makes us Sick include Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against Cuts, Dawn Foster from the Guardian newspaper and professor Raquel Rolnick.

Supporting organisations include the PCS union, Justice4Grenfell, Generation Rent and doctors in the Unite union.

Bad Housing Makes us Sick conference—Sat 30 March, 10am, Unite, 33-37 Moreland St, London EC1V 8BB

Cleaners reject fingerprint scanner

University cleaners employed by Sodexo have been told that the firm plans to bring in biometric finger print scanning.

Sodexo wants to test the new system on cleaners at the Institute of Education (IOE).

On 18 March IOE cleaners were sent a letter for a meeting with managers the next day to discuss the fingerprint scan plan.

Cleaners protested outside the meeting to oppose it.

Drivers get behind wheel of dispute

Lorry drivers employed by the Eddie Stobart firm are set to ballot for strikes over workplace practices.

Unite union members were transferred from Walkers snack company—but their new Eddie Stobart management has attacked their terms and conditions.

Workers are set to vote from this Thursday until the ballot closes on 11 April.

Parliament workers call off walkout

Parliamentary security workers called off a planned strike last week after bosses caved in.

The members of the PCS union had been set to strike on Wednesday of last week.

Their demands focused on rest breaks and the reinstatement of a sacked colleague.

But they called the strike off after bosses made concessions, including granting the sacked worker’s reinstatement.

Birmingham care workers strike in fight against cuts

Hundreds of care workers in Birmingham struck on Saturday of last week against plans to axe their jobs and wreck council services.

The Unison union members have been fighting for two years against a raft of attacks on the home enablement services.

The Labour-run Birmingham City Council wants to slash 30 jobs and force the remaining 200 workers onto part time hours.

It would be a devastating cut of thousands of pounds for an already predominately women, low paid workforce.

School bus drivers will not take bosses’ bribes

Bus drivers for disabled children in Hackney, east London, have announced extra strike dates as part of their fight for decent pay.

The Unite members, who drive and escort students to school, are fighting for an extra £50 a week split-shift payment.

They struck on Tuesday of last week and Tuesday of this week. Workers are planning to strike again on Wednesday and Thursday of this week and then on 2 and 4 April.

Onay Kasab, Unite regional officer said Hackney council was refusing to enter into meaningful negotiation, and instead had offered loans, gym memberships and theatre tickets to workers.

“This is very nice—but loans need to be paid back and mortgage lenders do not accept theatre tickets in lieu of mortgage instalments,” he said. “If the council valued its staff, it would engage with the union in a meaningful way,” he added.

Council cuts are not a done deal for Dundee

Local government workers in Dundee city council could be headed for industrial action as a consultative ballot opened last week.

Unite union members are voting on whether to strike over £10.3 million worth of cuts in the council’s annual budget. It would mean attacks on workers’ pay, the threat of redundancy and greater restrictions on flexible retirement.

Dougie Maguire, Unite regional co-ordinating officer said, “This is an unacceptable situation for not only the workforce but the people of Dundee.”

Anti-Nazis are majority in Edinburgh

A few dozen fascist Scottish Defence League (SDL) supporters were met by a counter–protest of over 250 in Edinburgh last Saturday.

The SDL gathering featured fascist flags, including those of Combat 18.

The anti-racist gathering was confident and determined. It heard speakers from a range of organisations including Stand Up To Racism Scotland, Unison City of Edinburgh council, Muslim Women’s Association Edinburgh, the EIS national union and EIS Edinburgh colleges.

Steve West from Stand Up to Racism Edinburgh said, “We can take heart from the fact that anti-fascists and anti-racists vastly outnumbered the SDL.”


The road to abortion rights reform

Abortion Rights Campaign activists held their Annual General Meeting and a public rally last Saturday in central London.

The meeting heard from Danielle Roberts, a key member of Alliance For Choice—a group campaigning for free, safe and legal abortion in Northern Ireland.

The theme was “The Road to Abortion Reform”.

It included speakers from Campaign for Abortion Law Modernisation (Isle of Man) and the Equality Rights Group in Gibraltar— where the penalty for breaching the law is life imprisonment.

Calls for a referendum

Hundreds of supporters of Scottish independence gathered in Glasgow last Sunday for a rally called by Hope Over Fear.

Protest organiser Tommy Sheridan demanded Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon calls a second independence referendum without seeking agreement from British prime minister Theresa May.

A series of pro?independence marches called by All Under One Banner (AUOB) are set to begin soon.

Last year they attracted tens of thousands of people.

The first is in Glasgow on 4 May.

With frustration growing at the Scottish National Party’s reluctance to call a new referendum, the AUOB marches will be big.

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Article information

Tue 26 Mar 2019, 11:34 GMT
Issue No. 2647
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