WORKERS employed by outsourcing giant Serco, who work in the company’s back-of-house catering department at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, will stage a demonstration tomorrow (Thursday 24 June) and have called further strike action in the dispute over bullying and unworkable rosters.
WHEN: Thursday 24 June at 12:00. WHERE: Next to the dental building adjoining the Royal London hospital E1 1BB.
The workers, Unite members, began a five day strike on Monday 21 June in the bullying and roster dispute, after talks at the conciliation service Acas failed to make any progress.
The workers, who play a key role in ensuring that food is delivered to hospital patients in their wards, have been trying without success to resolve their problems since July 2020.
The bullying is characterised by the aggressive use of sickness absence triggers and an abuse of power in the allocation of shifts and holidays, which has left members at breaking point during the pandemic.
In addition, without consultation, management has imposed an unworkable roster system with irregular shifts across a 15 week period. Members report it is now impossible to arrange childcare while other workers report it has meant that they have been unable to complete college courses.
Despite a two month delay between voting for strike action and beginning strike action, Serco has failed to address the problem of bullying and the company has failed to act to resolve the problems with its rosters. Serco was unable to offer any solutions to the members’ issues during Acas talks last week.
As a result, not only did members decide to go ahead with the current strikes but they also decided to hold a further five day strike beginning at 06:00 on Monday 5th July and ending at 22:00 on Friday 9th July.
Unite understands that as a result of the strike action Serco is planning to supply wards in the Royal London Hospital with bulk meals and that many of the standard menu items have been cancelled, dramatically decreasing the quality of service that patients receive.
Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: ‘Our members have been forced to take strike action as a last resort because Serco has been unwilling or unable to address their concerns about bullying and unworkable rosters.
‘Every worker has a right to go to work without fear and it is utterly unacceptable that Serco has allowed bullying to continue unchecked on this contract.
‘Further strike action can still be called off provided Serco returns to the negotiating table and puts forward concrete proposals to end the bullying and develop a workable roster system.’