‘OUR members are standing firm and determined to win,’ striking Royal London Hospital Unite rep Ebrima Sonko told News Line yesterday on the morning picket line outside the Whitechapel, east London, site.
The Royal London is one of four Bart’s Health NHS trust hospitals where ancillary workers employed by private contractor Serco are striking for a 3% pay rise and for more staff. Sonko said: ‘The strike is going well. The company is stretched and is employing people online for three-month contracts to cover.
‘It’s difficult to prove they are being employed to break the strike. But we have more members and people going on strike. Management have been trying to bully them into giving up but they are standing firm. They are determined to win, to see it through. We are having another ballot for more strike action next month.
‘Serco haven’t talked to us since last Friday. Nothing came out of those talks, all they said is they would give a 1% rise to the lowest paid. We want 3% for everybody. Other unions don’t agree with the 1% pay cap, they should take action as well. All unions should take action against the privatisation, otherwise we won’t have an NHS.’
Unite member Juan Guentrepan, a cleaner, said: ‘Our strike is necessary because the new company, Serco, the first thing they did when they came in, they wanted to take our break off us. All the unions should take action, not just Unite. We will win quicker that way.’
‘Unite needs to call a nationwide demonstration to support our strike and bring other Serco workers out. We are leading the fight over low pay,’ Bright Ephraim told News Line on the picket line outside Whipps Cross Hospital yesterday morning. There is only one way that we can win,’ he continued: ‘If all the members come out here with us, not just Unite but Unison as well.
‘Before, we were all in Unison. A dispute came up between the workforce and the company which we were then working for at the time and Unison could not do anything about it. That is why we all decided to come out of Unison and join Unite.
‘The issue is that if they cannot help someone, if something happened to me, how can they help me? ‘Now 90% of us are in Unite here at Whipps Cross Hospital. At the Royal London Hospital there are more who are in Unison. Labour MP for Leyton and Wanstead, John Cryer came down to the picket line on Wednesday morning and gave us his full assurance that we are going to win and we should keep on striking.’