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St Georges Hospital GMB picket line

St Georges Hospital GMB picket line. Photo: Kate O'Neil

GMB members at St George's Hospital have had enough of the two-tier system and not being paid, reports Kate O'Neil

GMB cleaners, hostesses and domestics working at St George’s Hospital in Tooting and employed by outsourcing giant Mitie commenced 24-hours' strike action this morning. The workers are fighting for many reasons including Mitie withholding wages to workers paid by the hour whilst it spent £10 million pounds on acquisition of a telecoms company.

The workers are additionally fighting against a two-tier workforce, as GMB rep John Inokoba explained at the picket line,

“The reason we are on strike is for all of us to be put in one contract because presently we have a two-tier system whereby some groups of people have sick pay while some groups of people don’t have sick pay and they are doing the same job. So it’s just creating division among us, and it’s a way of dividing us and ruling us.

“You know this pandemic has already taught us one vital lesson…If those who don’t have sick pay come into work, they are more likely to spread it to patients and as well their colleagues. So it’s like invisible costs. Protecting one group of people and not the other, you spread infection and it costs more to the Trust.”

tooting-mitie-strike-1-lg.jpg
Photo: Kate O'Neil

John also spoke of how the workers want to be bought in house on NHS contracts,

“We see the private company as always wanting to make more profits year on year, so…the standard of the job goes down, the patients suffer, the workers are also suffering because they have to take on more work for less pay.”

The picket line this morning was big with all entrances to the hospital covered. The mood among the largely immigrant workforce, lots of whom were striking for the first time, was angry, determined, optimistic. There was lots of solidarity and at midday a lively and angry march with lots of chanting went through Tooting and ended with a rally. John spoke of how he feels confident they can win, “We have all it takes to win. We are key workers…[that] means our service to the Trust is very important”.

John explained that the strike has received a lot of support from other workers at the hospital and that he believes that the union will use the six month mandate to strike to the maximum effect. The hospital workers will be back on strike on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 June.

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