By Isabel Ringrose
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Barts workers need victory, not concessions

Serco bosses are celebrating a massive rise in profits
Issue 2794
Three black women Barts NHS strikers in confident mood

Barts NHS strikers took on the bosses in February (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The Unite union has suspended strikes planned for this week at Barts NHS Trust to hold talks with bosses. The outsourced cleaners, porters, security guards and kitchen workers employed by Serco struck for two weeks in February month before returning to work for two weeks.

The mainly black and Asian workers, who have fought magnificently, are employed at St Barts, Royal London and Whipps Cross hospitals. They are presently paid up to 15 percent less than directly employed NHS staff.

Serco last week unveiled a 25 percent jump in profits, fattened by its government handouts for pandemic services and a rebound in its leisure and transport businesses.

It reported a pre-tax profit of £192 million in 2021, up from £153 million the ­previous year. There was also a big payout for shareholders who can look forward to a 15 ­percent increase in the final dividend.

So it’s 15 percent for those who grab unearned income, but far from 15 ­percent for those who do the work.

Unite had announced another two weeks of strikes set to begin on Monday. Management had made only loose promises at talks. But after they offered more talks, Unite called off the strikes.

The Barts Trust board was set to meet on Wednesday this week to decide whether they will take the workers in house after Serco’s contract ends in spring 2023. Bosses would have been under much more pressure if the strikes had gone ahead. It was a mistake to call them off. 

Unite regional officer, Tabusam Ahmed said, “Unless the board makes the right decision the workers will intensify their campaign against exploitation.” If bosses again fail to deliver justice, Unite must escalate to all out strikes.

  • Demonstration Wednesday 2 March, 11am, the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel Road, London E1 1FR
  • Donate to the strike fund. Name: Unity Trust, A/C number: 20344885, sort code: 60-83-01, Reference, Barts Strike.

TUC calls Blackpool pay demo

The TUC union federation has called a demonstration in Blackpool as the Conservative party holds its spring conference.

Organisers say, “Everything’s going up but our pay. Families are bracing themselves for the Conservatives’ cost of living storm to hit. This government has had 12 years to get wages rising and they have failed, over and over again.

“Join us in Blackpool to say loud and clear—Britain needs a pay rise!”

  • Demonstrate Saturday 19 March, assemble from 10am, march start 11am. Comedy Carpet, Tower Festival Headland, Promenade Blackpool, FY1 1AP.
  • Sign up for updates at tuc.org.uk/sign-demo

Action after victimisation

Printers in the Unite union at Envases Liverpool Ltd are preparing for 12 days of strikes following the dismissal of the union’s rep. The Unite union says John Williams was dismissed on false charges as a direct consequence of him standing up for the Unite members at the factory.

Envases had sought to use misleading information and a false statement to try to drive a wedge between Unite and another union at the factory. After Williams exposed the company’s actions he was dismissed. Envases produces tin plate containers and drums.

The first strikes are set for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week and then 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30 March.

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