Cleaners And Porters Out For Biggest NHS Strike This Year
UNITE members struck a bitter blow against the Tory pay cap as hundreds of cleaners, porters and security staff walked out in the biggest NHS strike this year.
About 700 Unite members took part in the action at four London hospitals belonging to the Barts NHS Trust yesterday, the first of three days of industrial action over pay.
Workers employed by Serco at the Royal London Hospital, Whipp’s Cross, Barts and Mile End Hospital are demanding a “modest” 3 per cent pay rise from the multinational privateer.
The action was well supported with picket lines at all sites and a march and rally at the Royal London.
The strikers marched along Whitechapel Road, chanting: “Serco, hear us,” “we want fair pay” and “the workers united will never be defeated.”
Passing drivers showed their support.
A kitchen hostess, who asked not to be named, told the Star she would “fight to my death for this pay rise.”
“We have too much work and don’t have enough staff or equipment.
Things have got much worse for us since Serco took over.
It was lovely before.”
Unite branch secretary Len Hockey said he was proud to be a striking porter.
He told those gathered outside the Royal London: “This branch blew the whistle on a patchwork quilt of poverty pay and exploitation.”
Mr Hockey said that a 3 per cent pay rise was “a modest claim.”
He added: “We will win, and I promise this will be a famous victory for the east London working class.
“The cap that is talked about by Theresa May doesn’t fit any more — and we won’t wear it.”
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail brought a message of solidarity, telling the hospital workers that 1.5 million Unite members “are standing behind you today.”
She said: “I thank you from bottom of my heart for the work that you do. Without you, the NHS wouldn’t work.”
Striking hospital domestic Mary Agyei told the rally: “We want fair pay.
We demand the 3 per cent.
“Without cleaners and porters there is no hospital.
It would be dirty and there would be infections.
“I am proud to be a domestic: we are important and we will fight until we get what we deserve.”
Strikes will continue today and tomorrow with further action planned for next week.