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11.03.2022 / News / Worker's Story /

Women security guards at Great Ormond Street Hospital, on their strike for equality


Erica Rasheed, UVW member and security officer at Great Ormond Street Hospital on strike:

“The security industry needs more women.There are plenty of industries where men still dominate the workforce. And security is one of them.

Being a woman in the security industry, I have faced many problems. Many people stereotype a security officer and what they should look like. A security officer is a person no matter what age, gender, height, weight.

Of all the personal challenges I have faced in the security industry, one of the biggest is being stereotyped for my appearance. I look “too young” to be in security or  “I’m not built” to be a security officer. People’s expectations of a security officer is a muscular male. 

Now that I’m pregnant I feel more, the need for equality and parity in my workplace.

Being the only woman in around 2000 female staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital who will get the worst maternity pay makes me think how important our fight is!. I’m on  strike for six weeks not only for a better pay rate or a pension but to be able to feed my family, and provide a better life for my children.

More women need to speak up, stand up and fight for “basic” rights and benefits in a workplace that men take for granted.

I am a member of the United Voices of the World  (VW) union, set up by low-paid, migrant workers, majoritarily women. I call on all working women to join us in UVW to fight for our rights.”  

Mimy Longagu, UVW member and security officer at Great Ormond Street Hospital on strike:

“Being the only female officer in my team for many years and working long hours, everything was fine until I had my baby. I became the only officer with childcare issues and couldn’t work long hours anymore. My request for flexible hours was declined and I was told it is 12hrs or nothing. 

They were basically telling me indirectly that the job was not for women with young kids. 

My husband managed to get flexible hours at his workplace to allow me to do long hours.

A few years later, my child was about to start school and there was not alternative. I spent four years fighting to keep my job going. 

I believe that discrimination has to stop and all employers have to be flexible for pregnant women and those with young kids. Otherwise most women will always be on benefits all their lives.

They should not make women choose between having kids or keeping their jobs. That is absolutely inhuman.

They should put structures in place considering the specific needs of women. 

Being part of UVW has become an indispensable way of finding a network of solidarity to fight gender inequality, because doing it alone is nearly impossible. There are so many out there in these situations. Let’s join forces and support each other.”

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