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Police intimidation as workers fight for rights

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Issue 2687
Strikers on Tuesday
Strikers on Tuesday (Pic: Ben Windsor)

Security staff at St George’s University Hospitals Trust (SGUL) in west London started 15 days of strikes on Monday—and immediately faced police action.

Their United Voices of the World (UVW) union said, “The university called the police on our peaceful picket and used undue intimidation and harassment to break up our picket line.

“Our head of legal, barrister Franck Magennis was arrested on spurious charges and then promptly de-arrested.”

After his release, Magennis said, “If my false imprisonment goes unchallenged, that would allow the Metropolitan Police to criminalise what is lawful civil activity, and would have a chilling effect on workers’ ability to stand up to bosses and exercise their civil liberties.

“Anyone concerned with a worker’s right to take industrial action, and with a citizen’s right not to be arbitrarily arrested, should be seriously concerned about the way the police have acted. Workers should be allowed to go on strike without being threatened with arrest. This is an outrage.”

The workers are outsourced to multinational company Noonan. They are striking for equal treatment with NHS employees.

They receive only the statutory minimum holidays and sick pay. They are not paid for the first three days of illness, meaning that many have to go into work despite not being well enough.

And they receive only 20 days of holiday plus bank holidays. Those directly employed by SGUL get 25-30 days holiday plus bank holidays.

UVW said, “The principal of SGUL, Jenny Higham, has made a public commitment to ‘inclusion’ but has repeatedly excluded our members who are mostly migrant or BAME workers, from feeling like full members of SGUL.”

Arrested for megaphone

James Farrar, a member of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union, is being taken to court by police officers for using a megaphone.

Farrar is founder and chair of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB.

He was speaking at a demonstration against the mayor of London and Transport for London’s decision to remove the congestion charge exemption from mini cab drivers in March last year.

Cops allege that he “assaulted” them by speaking through a standard megaphone, causing “pain and discomfort”.

James faces up to one year in prison.

And any conviction means that cops could claim they were assaulted whenever someone makes loud noise on a demonstration.

The union also says that the charges were made after the union filed a complaint against the police for their behaviour on the demonstration.

To donate to the fund for James’s defence go to

Outsourced workers at Greenwich university in London have won a key battle.

The cleaners and cafe workers are members of the United Voices of the World (UVW) union. They struck for four days in October.

They have won the London Living Wage of £10.75 an hour from May.

This is a 16 percent pay rise for cafe workers and a 23 percent rise for cleaners.

Bel Howard, a caterer who has worked at the cafe for over 20 years said, “I can’t tell you how happy I am. It is only £1 more per hour, what for some people is nothing, but it will change my life.”

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