By Yuri Prasad
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2785

Barts workers back action against outsourcer Serco

The Unite union members get 15 percent less than NHS workers
Issue 2785
Ten strikers, mostly black and brown, with placards such as "Pay Up Serco", "Caution Slippery Serco"

Barts workers struck in 2017 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

NHS privatisation giant Serco took a blow last week as hundreds of its workers at a key NHS trust in London voted to strike.

Cleaners, porters and domestics working for Barts Health NHS trust over several hospitals in central and east London have voted by a whopping 97 percent to strike over their bosses’ pay insult.

The Unite union members are mainly from black and Asian backgrounds and already take home some 15 percent lower pay than they would if the NHS directly employed them.

Serco Group plc had a turnover of £3.9 billion last year. But the firm pleads it can only offer these important workers at Barts a measly 1 percent “rise next” year.

But workers are having none of it and have balloted for strikes—despite the firm saying it was ditching its contract to provide services to Barts from 2023.

The huge yes vote will be a shock to managers. And, with a turnout in the ballot of over 55 percent, the way is clear for their Unite union to call action from January onwards.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said, “It’s time to take note of the strength of feeling of these NHS workers, who are being left in limbo as Barts and Serco prevaricate and pass the buck on their demands for a decent wage.

“Unite will be unwavering in our support of these union members and unless Barts and Serco put an end to their low pay and exploitation there will be strike action in January.”

It should happen as soon as possible.

Just striking at Just Eat

A strike by delivery workers has spread to Chesterfield and Sunderland after initially beginning in Sheffield.

The delivery drivers and riders, who are members of the IWGB union, work for Just Eat and parent company Stuart delivery.

They are facing a wage cut of 25 percent per delivery.

Last week McDonald’s was forced to stop taking orders in Sheffield due to workers being on strike.

There were reports on social media that McDonald’s workers themselves were showing solidarity with the strikes by refusing to take orders.

Workers have now completed six days of strikes and say they planning more.

Their demands include £6 minimum per delivery, plus mileage and for waiting times to be paid at £15 an hour after the first ten minutes.

Donate to the strike fund here

Battle over pay at Great Ormond Street Hospital

Security guards at Great Ormond Street children’s hospital (Gosh) struck for three days last week and rallied outside the hospital.

Workers, who are members of the UVW union, are striking to be brought in house by the hospital and to enjoy benefits in line with other NHS workers.

Strikes come after cleaners and porters at the hospital struck and campaigned to get these benefits, which they won.

Security guard, Alain Fieulaine said, “During Covid-19 we were doing Covid patient transfers and when the government gave the NHS a 3 percent rise, we were denied it because they said we are not part of it.

“I put my life at risk, the lives of my family members at risk and when the government gave a 3 percent —that is 33 pence—we were denied the 33p.”

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