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Heartlands hospital porters defy threat of the sack from bullying bosses

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Issue 2740
Porters on strike at Heartlands hospital in Birmingham
Porters on strike at Heartlands hospital in Birmingham (Pic: Unison Heartlands Porters Dispute on Facebook)

Striking porters at Heartlands hospital in Birmingham are livid after being told they will be sacked this week—unless they sign new, worse contracts.

Around 140 workers, who are members of the Unison union, have been told that they must accept new, rotating shift patterns or face redundancy.

Many of the workers have built their lives—including caring for children and vulnerable relatives—around existing rotas.

Striker Royston Bray has worked at the hospital for 23 years. He said, “There are going to be nine different start times.

“You’ll be doing a couple of days of one shift and then have a day off. Then you’ll be doing a couple of days on the next shift.

“So many porters have got commitments. Some are carers, and some take their kids to school or childminders. People just won’t be able to cope.”

Despite management threats, porters were set to walk out again from Monday to Wednesday of this week. They have already taken 12 days of strikes.


Regional union official Claire Breeze told Socialist Worker, “Heartlands hospital porter members of Unison will not allow management to bully and intimidate them into accepting their draconian rota.

“Forcing porters to sign their new rota under duress or get sacked will strengthen their solidarity and resolve, not end their dispute,” she said.

Heartlands is part of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, which is headed up by former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith.

The city’s eight Labour MPs have written to Smith condemning the firing and rehiring.

Many in the local Labour movement have long asked why Smith has been able to step into such a high profile role.

Now, many more want to know why someone ramming through terrible attacks on low paid workers is allowed to remain a high profile member of the party.

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