Socialist Worker

Striking NHS staff speak out, ‘I work 55 hours a week to cover rent’

Issue No. 2679

Hundreds of migrant workers are preparing for their second round of strikes at St Mary’s hospital in west London.

The United Voices of the World (UVW) union members struck from Monday to Wednesday last week.

It was a hugely successful sign of their determination to win pay and working conditions that are the same as directly employed NHS staff.

The workers are outsourced by the hospital Trust to the giant multinational Sodexo.

Workers are paid £8.21 an hour—and less for those under 25 years old.

This is up to £10,000 less per year than staff on an equivalent grade under the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale.

The workers have only Statutory Sick Pay and say this can force them to work on wards when ill—sometimes with contagious illnesses such as the flu.

They simply cannot afford to take time off when sick.

The UVW said workers are also forced to change in rodent-infested, dimly lit and mixed-gender changing rooms located in the hospital’s basement.

They are campaigning for better changing facilities. They also want an end to discrimination against the outsourced staff that, they say, has seen them banned from eating in NHS canteens and resting in NHS staffrooms.

One striking cleaner said, “I work 55 hours a week just to cover my rent.

“St. Mary’s is my home—I spend more time here than in my house. Yet I am treated like a dog and made to feel like dirt.”

The workers are migrants from all over the world, including Philippines, Lithuania, Portugal, Sierra Leone and Brazil.

The next strike is planned for next Monday to Wednesday.

Workers at the University of Greenwich cafe struck over pay and conditions on Tuesday and plan another strike next Monday.

They are UVW union members, outsourced to BaxterStorey.

To support the St Mary’s and Greenwich strike fund go to

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Article information

Tue 5 Nov 2019, 15:34 GMT
Issue No. 2679
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