‘Unions need to stand together to properly defend the NHS!’

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A lively picket of doctors, domestics, and pathologists, supported by Tower Hamlets Trades Council, outside Royal London Hospital yesterday

THERE were three sets of NHS workers on strike at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel yesterday, the domestic and catering workers, the pathologists and the junior doctors.

The junior doctors were on the third day of their current strike action.

Royal London Hospital BMA Rep, Rebecca Lissmann, told News Line: ‘I’m here striking with my local hospital, standing up for junior doctors and our other colleagues from Unite.

‘Doctors’ pay is being eroded. The NHS needs doctors but people are leaving.

‘The unions need to stand together to defend the NHS.’

Millicent Manso, Unite rep for the domestic and catering workers at the hospital, told News Line: ‘We’ve got over 200 on strike across the Bart’s Trust who are fighting for safe staffing and for our Covid lump sum payment.

‘We started striking in September and we’ve had six week-long strikes so far. The staffing levels are too low and the work is too much.

‘We’re NHS workers who were outsourced to a private company but we fought to be brought back into the NHS and we won that fight during Covid.

‘However, when they paid all NHS workers a £1,650 Covid lump sum payment they decided to exclude us, the catering and domestic workers and some porters at the Barts NHS Trust.

‘We don’t accept it and we won’t accept it.’

Fellow Unite rep, Chris Moe-Loembe, said: ‘They have to be beaten and we have to win. No matter what happens we will not give up, we will keep going until we get what we deserve.

‘They thought we would back off but we won’t, we’re getting stronger every day, if need be will go into a limitless strike.’

Ward host and Unite member, Comfort told News Line: ‘We do not know why they are holding up the payment of our Covid lump sum. It’s not right.

‘The doctors are out supporting us. They should be getting proper wages too.

‘I’m paying rent and it’s been increased from £1,550 to £1700 but I’m remaining on my same salary.’

Striking senior biometrical scientist and Unite member, George Wilkins said: ‘They’ve merged seven hospital pathology labs into one and they are trying to bring everything to the Royal London.

‘The other sites are Newham, Whipps Cross, Bart’s, Homerton, Queen Elizabeth, Woolwich and Lewisham.

‘It’s a hub and spoke method but there’s too much work here and the services on the other sites are compromised because of delays and specimens getting lost.

‘The main concern is that there are not enough staff here to cope with the extra work and the building is inadequate.

‘Our building was built 17 years ago and we recently had an electrical fire because there was too much plugged in.

‘We lost thousands of samples. At the end of the day they are just trying to save money.’