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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Protest picnic for struggling workers!

by Theo Russell

A GMB union ‘Protest Picnic’ was held outside Charing Cross hospital in West London on 4th July, in support of low-paid, privatised Sodexo support workers. Several members of the new Hammersmith, Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea Trades Council joined the protest, and the trades council banner was on display along with the local National Education Union (NEU) banner.

Over 1,100 cleaners and porters working for French multinational Sodexo at St Mary’s, Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals are being paid the National Living Wage of £8.21 per hour, whilst a minority of staff on the old contracts are paid £11.00. The GMB says that if you do the same work you should be paid the same wages.

In June the GMB organised three hospital protests at the NHS Imperial Trust; at Charing Cross in Fulham, St Marys in Paddington and Hammersmith Hospital workers were all involved in protests over wages.

The picnic protests include soft drinks, low music, pizza and cakes for the workers and their supporters.

Michael Dooley, the local GMB Union officer, told the protesters: “The general public will be surprised to hear that the staff in Charing Cross are paid only the minimum wage. Porters who care for patients and the deceased, cleaners who clean the blood, sick and other waste and the staff who keep the hospital moving 24 hours a day deserve more than the minimum wage.

“A picnic protest is a novel way of drawing attention to the plight of the staff working in Charing Cross Hospital, many staff are new to Britain and will appreciate the efforts by the union to get them involved in this after work protest.

“The protests are hoped to draw attention to the poor wages and obtain increases in pay rather than to go on strike at the hospitals, but the workers understand they may have to go on strike if their wages are not increased.”