Socialist Worker

Compass workers point to a fightback

Issue No. 2673

Picketing at Blackpool Victoria hospital

Picketing at Blackpool Victoria hospital (Pic: Unison North West/Twitter)


Hundreds of health workers in the north west of England struck last week in the face of bosses’ attempts to stop them from speaking out against low pay.

The Unison union said workers at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and Whiston Hospital on Merseyside “who have spoken out about low pay are being individually targeted and disciplined” by outsourcing giant Compass.

Unison members stood firm on picket lines during a three-day walkout for NHS rate of pay at Blackpool Victoria last Thursday.

They were joined the next day by workers at Whiston Hospital, who began their own 72-hour strike.

Many wore surgical masks to point out how bosses had tried to gag them and chanted, “We’re not gonna be leaving until we get more pay.”

Pat Woolham, Unison regional organiser, said, “The multinational outsourcing giant has opened disciplinary proceedings against several strikers.

Honestly

“One is a Unison rep and another has been nominated to become a rep. Their crime is simply speaking honestly to the media about their personal finances and experiences of working on minimum wage.

“Compass is aiming to silence the strikers and suppress staff in an attempt to force them back to work.

“But strikers are united and determined and will take further action if necessary.”

Woolham added, “The fact that a company that made £1.5 billion profit last year refuses to agree an 82p pay rise for its lowest paid staff is shocking enough.

“Compass is now punitively targeting dedicated hospital workers.”

The cleaners, domestics and other support staff work alongside NHS staff who are on £9.03 an hour, but only receive £8.21 an hour themselves.

This sees some workers lose up to £1,600 a year. On the Blackpool picket line workers won the support of Labour MP Gordon Marsden, who called for an end to “bullying tactics”.

Every trade unionist should build solidarity for the Compass workers’ fight.

  • Security Staff employed by private contractor Engie Services at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust have voted unanimously for a strike to win NHS pay rates.

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