TODAY more than 700 SERCO cleaners, security guards, catering staff and porters, who are in the middle of a week-long strike across four hospitals, and their supporters are marching from the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel to the Mile End Hospital in Stepney Green.
They are striking to demand an end to the job cuts, an end to the ever-increasing workload and to demand a 3% pay increase. ‘Everyday we are getting stronger,’ striking SERCO worker and Unite member Bright Ephraim told News Line on Friday morning’s picket of Whipps Cross Hospital. ‘Not a single job must be cut,’ Ephraim continued.
‘There is a big A&E here and there is only one porter on in the morning up until 8am when just one more porter comes on duty and the A&E is massive. The A&E was built just before the 2012 Olympic Games because they thought there would be an increase in athletes and spectators who in an emergency would need an A&E. It was built very quickly and not very well.
‘When it rains, water starts to come through the ceiling. Sometimes if it rains a lot, the water comes up through the holes in the floor in the toilet and floods the corridor. They say that they are going to re-develop Whipps Cross Hospital and sell off some of the land. SERCO are treating us very poorly. We are fighting for a 3% pay increase. This is an increase of just 30p an hour. Why can they not give it to us?
‘The most annoying thing is that they say that if you are on strike, when you go back, we will not give you any overtime. They are now employing agency staff at great cost. I do not know whether it is punishment or intimidation or both. I asked my deputy for overtime and he said management have told him that anyone who joined in the strike – don’t give them overtime.
‘It is better for us to be taken in-house and employed directly by the NHS. That is actually what we want, not to be employed by a private company. I do not know why the NHS do not just employ us directly.’