Royal London SERCO strike rally

‘SERCO out!’ shouted striking London Hospital catering workers at their lunchtime rally yesterday

DURING their five-day strike which concludes today, hospital staff working for SERCO gathered for a lively union rally at the Royal London Hospital at noon yesterday, to step up their action against roster changes forced on them by the private company.

The air was filled with the sounds of vuvuzelas and chants of ‘SERCO out!’Ruth Hydon, the regional Unite officer, said: ‘Our members don’t want SERCO in the trust any more.‘They have imposed impossible rotas, working ten days in a row. They don’t cover people when they take sick leave and annual leave.‘They have only offered a below inflation pay rise of 1%, which is an insult.’Jay, a catering worker told News Line: ‘It’s about management bullying and dramatic roster changes.‘The work is very demanding. We are busy from the minute we get there. There are additional jobs on top. We get a half-hour break.‘They are putting us on 15-week rotas, taking away our work-life balance, and stopping people furthering their education.’

Colenzo Jarrett Thorp, a Unite National Officer, said: ‘This is my first demonstration for one year. We are proud and strong. We are going to stick together and not give up. We are in this for the long haul.

‘This is an outsourced contract. NHS should mean NHS. It should not be outsourced to the private sector. Its main aim is to make profits out of sickness. The NHS was not built for this.

‘There is a break clause in the SERCO contract with Barts Hospital Trust. Now is the time to break that break clause. ‘It is our ambition to win back SERCO services back in-house.

‘We want thousands to march to the Board Meeting on the 7th July, and make sure Barts does the right thing and brings workers back in-house. We’ve had enough of Johnson and social care. We want a decent pay rise of 15%.’

Other speakers included a Local GP, and Len Hockey, a Unite rep from Whipps Cross Hospital. The 15% pay rise being demanded would bring the SERCO workers up to the pay rates of Agenda for Change (AfC) NHS workers.

There were messages of support from Nottinghamshire health, where workers had succeeded in being removed from a Carillion contract and being taken back in-house, from the Ealing car park workers also out on strike now, and from Guy’s and St Thomas’ health workers.