Barts Hospital staff stage walkout over low pay
Picket line outside St Bartholomew Hospital as cleaners, porters and security guards go on strike
14 July, 2017 — By Emily Finch
The picket line outside St Bartholomew Hospital on Tuesday
HUNDREDS of hospital security guards, porters and cleaners this week went on strike in a fight against low pay.
Workers employed by outsourcing giant Serco joined picket lines at Smithfield’s St Bartholomew Hospital on Tuesday, and four other hospitals run by Barts Health NHS Trust, at the start of a week-long walkout.
Around 14 protesters gathered on the picket line outside the hospital in Smithfield from 5am, waving flags and handing out leaflets which depicted their employer as a money-grabbing vampire. The striking workers, who are supported by Unite the Union, called for a 3 per cent increase in pay and an end to proposed job cuts.
Cleaner Laurenda Mensah, 62, said her wages had remained the same for eight years, while she was expected to do more work after Serco took over management of non-clinical services at the Trust in April. Workers were previously employed by different outsourcing firms, including Carillion.
Ms Mensah said: “When Serco came they expected a lot more cleaning of medical equipment – work which used to belong to the medical staff. How do we clean a resuscitation machine? If we mess it up, what do we do?”
Another cleaner, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had not taken his children on holiday for 10 years because his wages were so low, and he was worried about losing his job after hearing about possible job cuts at Whipps Cross Hospital, which is also run by Barts Health.
Commenting on the protest, Phil Mitchell, Serco’s contract director, said his company offers £9.75 per hour as a minimum, in line with the London Living Wage.
“For those team members on higher salaries, we have offered a pay increase for this year which is in line with that for NHS staff,” he added.
“We’re determined to ensure that Unite’s action does not impact on patients. We have robust plans in place aimed at ensuring we can continue to support the Trust’s hospitals to operate as normal during the planned action.”
Protesters will march tomorrow (Saturday) from Whitechapel’s Royal London Hospital to Mile End Hospital. A further two-week walkout is planned for the end of July.