Striking security guards at Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh) in central London have secured a partial success in their battle for the right to picket.
A court injunction last week banned the UVW union members and their supporters from “vigorous dancing”, waving banners and making any other loud noise within 200 metres of the hospital. The High Court ruled on Friday that they could picket and protest, but only in zones designated by the hospital.
It still bans strikers and the UVW’s co-founder Petros Elia from organising protests within 50 metres of the trust.
Elia said strikers were “pleased we were able to claw back some of the rights which were taken and attempted to be taken from us. But the restrictions in place are still unjustifiably oppressive.” He added. “UVW will continue to fight back against these draconian attacks from wealthy bosses and call on the union movement to support the striking Gosh security guards.”
Security guards began a six-week strike earlier this month for the same pay and conditions as workers employed directly by the NHS and an end to outsourcing.
Strikers will not be allowed to play music that “features the use of percussion or horns” or use megaphones within this radius. Pickets and protests will now only be permitted in three locations.
There are restrictions outside the Paul O’Gorman Building, where strikers have previously held successful rallies. No more than six strikers and UVW union members will be able to gather outside the building at once at risk of a fine or imprisonment.
Striking security guard Mimi Longagu voiced her frustration at how Gosh was dragging proceedings out. “I’m so disappointed,” she said. “They are wasting our time. We should be striking. We are supposed to be on the picket line. So it’s more money, and it’s more time.”
The union also tweeted its dismay that that hospital management, “gave around £40,000 to fat cat lawyers (which could have gone to the care of sick children) to try and injunct their 33 security guards”.
While a partial success, the court decision is still a big attack on the rights of workers to protest and picket. It could set a dangerous precedent for other bosses to do the same. Trade unionists, socialists and campaigners should build solidarity for the Gosh strikers and join their picket lines.
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