Security guards striking for sick pay at Great Ormond Street Hospital are being met with shameful legal threats, reports Yonas Makoni
After just five days of a planned 44-day strike, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) bosses are already running scared. GOSH have informed the United Voices of the World (UVW) trade union that they will be seeking a court injunction against picketers and protesters outside the hospital. According to UVW, the hospital has sent a letter threatening a court injunction “unless UVW undertakes to cease all picketing at the hospital and limit the number of any ‘protestors’ to six”.
The security guards began their strike on Thursday last week in an effort to secure equal terms and conditions to other workers at the hospital. The predominantly black security guards are outsourced to work for third-party contractor Carlisle Support Services on worse terms than their NHS colleagues and have no sick pay. The UVW argues that this is evidence of indirect racial discrimination and have therefore recently started legal proceedings against the hospital.
The pandemic has shown how reliant the country is on key workers. Not too long ago, health service workers were rightly celebrated for their role in saving lives and supporting our communities. Just as the PartyGate scandal has exposed the contempt Boris Johnson's Tory government holds for us all, the reaction of the hospital and Carlisle (owned by billionaire Lord Ashcroft) to these strikes likewise demonstrates how little their platitudes at the height of the pandemic meant to those who hold corporate power. Despite the modest demands of the workforce and despite the company generating £65 million in revenue in 2019, the hospital has so far refused to even enter into negotiations with the union. Absurdly, this repression of the strike is likely to be far more expensive than the cost of ending the discrimination, giving the workers their sick pay and bringing them in-house.
The GOSH example shows the lengths employers will go to suppress workers’ rights and workers' struggles. If the hospital succeeds in suppressing this strike, it will represent a blow to striking workers across the country. The whole movement must throw their weight in support of the GOSH security guards and help them secure victory!
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