19 March 2014
The seven day strike by Medirest porters, domestic, help desk and catering workers at Ealing hospital in the GMB has been an inspiration.
From the first day of the strike on Friday, and during the previous days’ strikes last month, the strikers have been absolutely solid, with mass turnouts on picket lines from first thing throughout the day.
They are fighting for the Living Wage, as Medirest currently only pay the workers £6.31 an hour, despite many of the strikers having worked at the hospital for years, and Medirest paying other rates at other hospitals in London. In the wake of the Tories’ announcement over NHS workers’ pay last week, already some health workers directly employed by the NHS have been keen to deliver solidarity for their colleagues in Ealing who are leading the way in the battle over pay.
Solidarity collections, cards, visits to picket lines or invites to speak at union meetings have already come in from Unison members at Homerton hospital, Unison members at Whipps Cross hospital and GMB members working on London Ambulances.
Rush solidarity messages, invites for strikers to speak at branch meetings, and to inform of any workplace collections/ union branch donations towards the strike to:
Stella George-Duesbury, Regional Organiser 07730 091070
Picket lines saw strikers bringing along homemade pakoras, popcorn, supplies of juice and chai tea to keep the pickets and their supporters going.
By day two on the picket lines, strikers showed they were there for the long haul, with picnic blankets laid down on the grassy area they’d taken over.
But as one striker said, “this is no picnic”, and there was a constant stream of noisy chanting, accompanied by toots from buses and cars passing through the car park, to make sure management could hear their determination and the lively atmosphere of the picket line.
Supporters who came by to visit included activists from other unions, such as the NUT, Unite, GMB, and Unison, local campaigners who have been fighting to defend the hospital’s A&E, and students from Kingston university.
The strikers also heard from GMB regional officials who pledged support and were visited on the picket line by Viendra Sharma MP for Ealing Southall.