Striking security guards at Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh) in central London are facing a huge attack on their right to picket.
A court injunction bans the UVW union members, the union’s co-founder Petros Elia and supporters from waving banners within 200 metres of the hospital. It should throw down the gauntlet to the whole trade union movement. Every trade unionist, socialist and campaigner should show solidarity with the Gosh workers. The best response is to defy the ban through mass pickets supported by labour movement.
Other breaches listed by the injunction include shouting and rapid and dramatic movement, including “vigorous dancing, and any other loud noise. The injunction demands restrictions on protest outside the Paul O’Gorman Building, where strikers have regularly rallied. And it threatens those who break it with fines—and even imprisonment.
The Gosh security guards began a six week strike last week for the same pay and terms and conditions as workers directly employed by the NHS. They want to be brought back in-house from outsourcing giant Carlisle Support Services.
Last week workers held a spirited rally outside the hospital, attended by up to 200 supporters including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The strike has amassed support from across the trade union movement, including activists of the PCS, RMT and Unite unions.
What’s clear from this injunction, is that the bosses at Gosh are rattled by the prospect of a six-week strike. Strikers are also suing Gosh for racial discrimination over pay inequality.
The UVW union rightly described the injunction as an “unprecedented attack on the civil liberties of the union movement” and said it “will resist it vigorously.” The union will fight the injunction in court next Wednesday, which could have implications for the whole trade union movement.
Gosh could set a dangerous precedent, allowing the bosses to ban protests and pickets they don’t like more easily. And this will only get worse if the Tories’ police bill comes into force.
This means that every trade union and campaign must build solidarity with the UVW and the strikers’ right to picket and protest.
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