Striking Unite members joined at the Bank of England to fight for justice, reports Jonathan Maunders
On Thursday afternoon Unite members from three different workplaces gathered outside the Bank of England to express solidarity and demand an end to unfair pay. Members from the Bank of England, British Airways mixed fleet and Barts Health NHS Trust joined under the banner 'LondonUnited' to pressure their respective employers to relent.
British Airways cabin crew Unite members were on their 58th day of strike of action in the battle against poverty pay and the punishments handed to those on strike. Unite members who are security workers, porters and domestic staff at Barts Heath NHS Trust are challenging employees Serco for a 30 pence an hour wage increase. Meanwhile, Bank of England staff are striking for the first time in 50 years, protesting against a below-inflation pay proposal. While the three workplaces are all seperately taking industrial action, they seem unflinchingly united in standing up to the pay inequality they find themselves in.
Waving Unite flags and placards featuring Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, protestors marched around the block chanting "workers united will never be defeated' and 'Bank of England- bank of shame." They then returned to the area opposite the Bank of England to be addressed by several speakers.
Speakers from each respective campaign spoke to the crowd, explaining why they were striking emphasising their pride at the tangible unity present.
Unite's regional secretary, Peter Kavanagh, declared it as "Fightback Thursday" before telling those striking "you have different jobs, you inhabit different worlds, your employers have failed to recognise your contributions." He went on to enthuse about those who had unionised from the respective campaigns and called for continued organisation and a continued fightback.
A speaker from TUC South East highlighted the historical significance of the action, the first to take place outside the Bank of England in over 300 years.
Finally, Unite National Executive member Richard Allday declared to those striking, "your union is backing you" before concluding by saying "we sink or swim together." Richard's words were highly significant given the mood of the afternoon, a distinct feeling of unity tangible throughout.
Speaking to a number of people present from different campaigns, it is clear that this cooperation has been hugely uplifting. It is clear that by working together, each campaign has raised morale and increased its chance of victory. Solidarity breeds strength and that was the case throughout the day.