Workers from the United Voices of the World (UVW) union have achieved a “historic victory”. According to the UVW, the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is now ending “decades of outsourcing to private contractors”. The decision from the Trust’s board ended a three-month-long dispute with UVW.
The dispute involved around 200 UVW members and included mass pickets, occupations, blockades and protest at a board meeting. Their joyful, determined campaign has resulted in them becoming NHS employees. This victory sets an example for ALL outsourced NHS staff to follow!! 2/3 pic.twitter.com/BKmzgyiH84
— United Voices of the World (@UVWunion) January 30, 2020
As the union reported:
Several hundred workers, outsourced for over 3 decades to global giants such as Sodexo and ISS across 5 hospitals belonging to Imperial Trust, will now enjoy the same pay and terms and conditions as NHS staff.
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The UVW’s Kane Shaw, meanwhile, insisted:
We consistently get the goods because we’re member led, horizontal and not afraid to move straight to strike or use direct action. Workers at the point of production are more powerful than the bosses. It really is that simple. https://t.co/lgAxjKcM5W
— Kane Shaw (@KaneShaw16) January 30, 2020
Setting a “historic precedent”
UVW co-founder and strike organiser Petros Elia called this “a huge victory” not only for workers at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust “but for all outsourced workers in the NHS”:
Our members were told they would never win this fight, but with the full backing of UVW and mass picketing, blockades and occupations they’ve won against all odds. This victory sets a historic precedent which we hope other workers will follow in demanding an end to outsourcing across the NHS.
Elia also stressed:
this is also a victory for patients. Study after study shows hospitals that outsource their ancillary staff have higher incidences of infections, including MRSA, and patient complaints are higher when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness. Cutting out profit hungry contractors will allow the Trust to put patient health and safety first.
One worker who helped to organise her colleagues, meanwhile, added:
Now I won’t have to choose between paying my rent and protecting my health. Striking was not an easy thing to do, but we’ve proven that by sticking together, and by having the support of the amazing union UVW, that workers can win for themselves and patients up and down the country.
Another worker told The Canary:
I am so happy, we have been fighting for this for a long time… now I know this is definitely the union for me.
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