‘WE WANT a 3% pay rise. SERCO are making us work more for no extra money,’ Unite hospital worker Florence Kwao said yesterday on the second day of the 200 workers’ 48- hour strike.
SERCO hospital workers at four east London hospitals: Mile End, Whipps Cross, Newham and the Royal London were all out together.
Kwao continued: ‘SERCO came in in April and took over the cleaning, portering and catering contracts.
‘Without us the hospital would not be clean. We voted 99% YES for strike action and we will fight until we win.’
The lively picket of up to 50 SERCO workers and supporters blew vuvuzelas and shouted: ‘Low pay! No way!’ and ‘SERCO! hear us!’
SERCO worker and Unite member Perry Kaye told News Line: ‘I believe that we should be employed directly by the NHS.
‘Cleaning the hospital is a science. What SERCO give us to do in the course of a day is not sustainable.
‘It is unsustainable because they do not employ enough workers.
‘The quality of cleaning has gone down simply because there is too much to do.
‘We have ten hours work to do in seven and a half hours. I want to do my job properly. I do not want the patients in here to pick up an infection because I have not had the time to clean properly.
‘I think that everything needs to be taken back in-house and so do all the nurses and staff.’
SERCO worker William Kolley added: ‘When SERCO came in in April they brought a lot of agency workers with them. After a few weeks they were all gone. I am now doing the job of two people.
‘Before there were four people on my ward, now there are just two and we have to do everything.
‘If there is pressure on a domestic then they will be forced to cut corners to complete their jobs.’
Esther Appiah also a SERCO worker in Unite said: ‘Sometimes we do not even have chemicals to clean the floor – only water!
‘They said that there are already chemicals on the floor so water is fine. To me, water is not fine because there are a lot of infections on the floor so we need a lot of strong chemicals to clear the infections.’
Unite member Henok Araya said: ‘Pay is a massive issue for us. They add a lot of jobs to our work schedule. They are adding jobs but not pay.
‘Before there was one worker doing the dusting, one the sinks, one the toilets, one the floors. Now we are expected to do all the jobs.
‘We are demanding 3% pay rise. They are trying to take away our sick pay. It has become harder and harder to phone in and register when you are sick.
‘They are making it very difficult so when you ring up it is just an answer machine instead of a person taking down a note of your symptoms.
‘They wanted to take away our 15-minute tea break but we won that back last month.’