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26 February 2014

Hospital workers fight for fair pay

Chris Newby

On 19 February workers at and visitors to Ealing hospital in west London were left in no doubt of the determination of striking Compass Medirest workers, members of the GMB union. This was the first day of the second 48-hour strike in the last weeks.

Alongside the noisy mass picket loads of GMB flags festooned the entrance to the hospital. The staff on strike are employed as domestics, caterers, porters and help desk workers

Workers' anger at management's refusal to seriously discuss their pay demand was shown in the 98% vote for strike action.

The workers are demanding a 2 an hour pay increase on their miserly 6.31 an hour current minimum wage pay levels.

Several of the workers said all their costs had increased but their pay hadn't. Staff doing similar jobs in other hospitals in London where Medirest have the contract, such as Chase Farm and Barnet in north London and Kings College hospital in south London are being paid over 9 an hour for the same work.

What has also angered the GMB members on strike is that Medirest have brought in agency workers on strike days at a cost of 100 per worker per day.

One of the picketing workers also raised the question of the continuing funding by the unions of the Labour Party while Labour refuses to make a stand against cuts.

Several of the workers are supportive of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition standing candidates in the upcoming council elections.

These workers are clearly determined in their struggle and are prepared to take further strike action if management refuse to meet their demands