Four London hospitals will see strike action today as low-paid workers fight privateer Serco for a pay rise.
Cleaners, porters and security guards will walk out this morning at Barts NHS Trust hospitals Whipps Cross, the Royal London Hospital, St Bartholomew’s and Mile End in the first of three days of strike action.
The Unite members at the trust voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action to stop job cuts and to fight for the first above-inflation pay rise for 12 years.
The union said it would be the biggest strike in the NHS this year, involving 700 cleaners.
Porters at Whipps Hospital are also in dispute over plans to cut jobs, on top of Serco bosses increasing workloads to “unmanageable levels.”
Strikers are demanding a pay increase of 30p an hour and opposing job losses. Unite estimates the pay claim for just over 1,000 staff on the contract would cost £800,000.
Unite regional officer Gloria Sindall said: “Cleaners, porters and security staff have seen their real living standards drop year on year.”
Ms Sindall added that despite Serco’s huge profit last year managers were “refusing to share these earnings fairly and protect the living standards of the workers.
“Unite members are fed up and are preparing for a series of strikes to demand a fair and proper pay rise which recognises the contribution they make to Serco and to Barts.”
Unite plans a seven-day stoppage from July 11 if the dispute is not resolved.