Great Ormond Street Hospital security guards have begun strike action and rallied against outsourcing and pay inequality, reports Cici Washburn
UVW security guards at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) commenced two days of strike action on Tuesday, and marched to the hospital for their strike rally. The workers are fighting against outsourcing and to be bought in-house, following the brilliant victory of their cleaning and catering colleagues, who earlier this year won their fight through strike action to be bought in-house. The security guards have worked throughout the pandemic with no sick pay, risking their lives, and going way beyond the role they are employed to do.
Security officer, Omer, said:
“We asked them nicely before to give us a decent pay rise. We’ve been working here throughout the pandemic when most of the NHS staff weren’t about, we were doing the jobs with the porters, taking people to their wards, if anything we were basically under pressure. So we’ve asked them nicely to give us the NHS benefits and they have refused. So we’re taking industrial action today to get our message out there, because we deserve to have the same benefits as anybody else in this building.”
Many of the workers talked about how the UVW domestic-staff victory, in their demand to be bought in-house and have parity with NHS staff pay, sick pay, maternity pay, etc, inspired them. They also say that since domestic staff are a workforce of 300, why can’t bosses bring 33 security guards in-house? Security worker, Samuel, said: “There’s been a lot of unfairness, injustice and inequality within the healthcare system and GOSH is no different, because I’ve been working here for seven years now.” UVW speakers spoke of the systemic racism these workers face, and that they are denied a decent standard of living. Many security workers talked about the difficult positions they were put in during the pandemic, and the impact on their families.
Children entering and leaving the hospital were given balloons from the picket and listened to the music and chants. Many other workers joined in solidarity, including care worker, Julia, from Sage Nursing home, who was on strike and won in October, Andrea from Care and Support Workers Organise, a UCU striker, other UVW workers working in retail, and three doctors, who spoke at the rally. All the doctors highlighted that NHS colleagues stand with the security guards in their fight. Dr Louise Irvine from Keep Our NHS Public said:
“We’ve always campaigned to support our NHS staff including the NHS staff that are outsourced workers, because you shouldn’t be outsourced, you should be part of the NHS because you are part of the NHS.”
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