Around 25 security staff at St George’s medical school in south London have unleashed a programme of 15 days of strikes as part of their battle to be brought inhouse.
The workers, members of the United Voices of the World (UVW) union, are outsourced to multinational company Noonan and began their walkout last Monday.
They are fighting for equal treatment with workers employed directly by the medical school. Their current outsourcing agreement mean that they only get the minimum statutory sick pay and holiday.
One striker told Socialist Worker, “We’re treated like we don’t belong. There’s no respect for us.
“If we get sick we have to come into work just to make enough to live. That’s why we’re standing up for ourselves,” he said.
UVW said outsourcing creates a “two tier workforce”.
Another striker told Socialist Worker, “We’re overworked and treated like we don’t matter. St George’s is a well-respected hospital. They should pass that on to everyone who works for them.
“It’s not just about having a better work life. It’s about dignity,” he said.
Bosses claim they can’t afford to bring the security staff in house.
But a report previously published by St George’s shows that in reality employing the workers would save some £200,000 a year.
Gabrielle Jeliazkov, spokesperson for the union said, “They are putting profit before BAME employees. No one can claim to care about inclusion when they are excluding workers and making their lives miserable.”
On the first day of the strike, UVW’s head of legal Franck Magennis was arrested and released a few minutes later. Magennis plans to sue the Metropolitan Police.
He called his arrest “a piece of theatre” intended to “intimidate other people on the picket line”.
The strikes will continue on 27 January for three days.
They say they will keep fighting until Noonan is booted out and workers are brought inhouse.
James Farrar, a member of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union, has been cleared of “assault” with a megaphone.
James is the founder and chair of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB.
He was taken to court after using a megaphone at a protest last March.
James was accused of causing “pain and discomfort” after using the megaphone at ear level. But Judge Bartle said this did not amount to assault because “the offence requires unlawful application of force”.
James called the charges “a corrupt and crude attempt by the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London to break our union and further disenfranchise precarious workers”.
He plans to sue the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for wrongful prosecution.
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