Hundreds of cleaning staff at the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London, UK, have finally won full National Health Service (NHS) contracts following last-minute discussions with the management on March 10. This was just before the commencement of a two-day strike announced earlier by the staff for the same demand.
Under the leadership of the union United Voices of the World (UVW), the cleaning staff at GOSH, one of the world’s leading hospitals in children’s care, was gearing up for a two-day strike by mid-March to demand payment for working overnight, evening and weekend shifts. The last-minute discussions with the management averted the strike after the workers received assurances that they will be given terms and benefits of full NHS contracts from April 1, 2022. Meanwhile, security guards at the hospital are currently involved in six-weeks of strike action under the leadership of the UVW, demanding pay equality and an end to outsourcing.
UVW general secretary Petros Elia hailed the achievement of the cleaning staff as “another massive UVW win at GOSH” and praised the determination of the workers. “Our members will never tolerate being treated as second class by GOSH or any employer, and we will fight for as long as it takes and with everything it takes until dignity and equality are guaranteed,” Elia said.
Memuna Kabia, a cleaner at GOSH, applauded the support given by the UVW in their fight, saying, “we are all so happy. Our lives are going to change so much because now we know we are fully GOSH employees and it’s permanent. No more humiliation and bullying for us.”
The GOSH security guards’ six-week strike for equality and against racial discrimination started on February 3. They are now the only workers at the hospital who are outsourced and not on full NHS contracts. According to UVW, the outsourced guards are mostly from Black, ethnic minority, or migrant backgrounds. They are denied the same rights enjoyed by their mostly white NHS colleagues. They have continued their strike to this day, braving several attempts by the management to thwart the agitation, including seeking an injunction from the court against the strike. GOSH guards have also organized rallies to defend the right to strike. Workers and trade unionists from different sectors have extended their support and solidarity to the guards and condemned the management’s attempts to thwart the strike.