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Royal London Hospital strike rally

Royal London Hospital strike rally

Outsourced workers in London Barts hospitals are striking for two weeks for fair pay. Yonas Makoni reports from a vibrant strike rally kicking off the industrial action

Workers at Bart’s Health NHS trust began a strike this week in a dispute over low pay and pay inequality.

Last summer, workers at Royal London Hospital went on strike in a dispute over rosters. Now, Unite members in several hospitals across the NHS trust are taking action against the exploitation that they argue is rife in the sector.

The strike kicked off on Monday morning with a vibrant strike rally at the Royal London Hospital. The mood was optimistic and energetic with workers dancing, blaring horns and blowing whistles. Speakers emphasised the difficulties faced by key workers during the pandemic, the cost of living crisis and the need to bring the services back in-house.

The workers - including catering staff, cleaners, porters and security - are all employed by notorious outsourcing giant Serco, rather than the NHS itself. As such, bringing an end to privatisation has become a key demand of the strike.

One worker said,

“We’re striking because we want to go in-house. We’re working in the NHS but we are not getting the benefits [of NHS employment]… We’re outsourced which means we get less holidays, less sick pay and less of all other benefits.”

The workers will be striking every weekday from Monday, 31 January to Sunday, 13 February. A second rally is scheduled to be held on Friday, 4 February at Whipps Cross Hospital (Main entrance on Whipps Cross Road E11 1NR at 11am).

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Whipps Cross Hospital picket line. Photo: Carole Vincent

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