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GOSH security guards with Andy McDonald MP

20.12.2021 / Press releases /

Security guards at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital announce six-week strike

  • Security guards at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) are renewing strike action and are set to walk out for six weeks in their ongoing fight for equality with other NHS workers, in what will be one of the longest strikes in the history of the NHS
  • Outsourced, predominantly Black and migrant, security guards are asking for the same terms and conditions as the hospital’s predominantly white in-house staff
  • Bosses at GOSH have refused to negotiate with the security guards’ union, striking workers have been subjected to union-busting tactics and vile racist slurs

The United Voices of the World (UVW) union has today informed GOSH that security guards at the hospital will be commencing six weeks of strike action from 18 January 2022 until 2 March 2022. Security guards are asking to be taken back in-house and be given the same terms and conditions as other NHS workers. They are the only workers at the hospital being denied full sick pay during the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. 

The security guards are predominantly Black, brown and migrant workers on worse terms and conditions than the predominantly white GOSH in-house staff. Because of this the security guards are also taking the hospital to an Employment Tribunal in a novel group indirect race discrimination claim. UVW recently successfully argued that the Royal Parks outsourcing of a similar employment contract was unlawful indirect race discrimination.

January’s strike action follows from a four day strike which took place in early December, following which the workers have complained about vindictive union-busting tactics from bosses and vile racist slurs which have been reported to the police. 

Samuel Awittor, security guard for GOSH and UVW member, said: 

“We are going on strike because we feel that we have not been treated fairly and we’ve been discriminated against. GOSH is made up of departments of families. If you take security out, it’s not going to be complete. If you take a clinical department out, it’s not going to be complete. And in a family circle, even when one member of the family feels he’s been left behind, or he’s not been treated fairly, there’s always going to be a reaction. We ask ourselves, are we less human than others? We begin to question why we should be working in the same environment and why there is this two-tier system where others get different benefits, when we do the same or more”.

Erica Rasheed, security guard for GOSH and UVW member, said: 

“Ever since I joined this hospital, Great Ormond Street, we have been outsourced, so this means we have been connected to a private company. We have different work conditions, different contracts from our colleagues, the NHS staff. We feel that is very unfair, very unjust and this can even mean that it’s racial discrimination. And why is that? Because most of us are from Asian and Black backgrounds. We need to change this situation and we want to change it now. It is hard to believe, but I do not get full pay sick pay. What this means is I can’t afford to take sick leave and if I go to work when ill I put myself and others in danger. And if I stay at home – I don’t make rent. I do believe in the NHS, I really do. But what kind of institution treats their workers like that?”  

Peter Akintoye, security guard for GOSH and UVW member, said:

“This fight is a fight we want everyone to back us on. We want everyone to know that all we are requesting is fairness. That’s all. We want GOSH to listen to us, and to see things from a different perspective so that we can sit down and talk about the way forward. We wish we didn’t have to strike but they have left us with no choice.” 

Petros Elia, general secretary for UVW, said:

“Despite repeated attempts to talk to GOSH Trustees we have been met with silence. That’s why our members will be going on strike which GOSH has had every opportunity to avert. And our members will have our full support to fight for as long as it takes until they win what they deserve: Dignity and Equality. It’s outrageous that these workers are the only workers at the hospital who don’t get full sick pay during a global pandemic, when they are on the very frontlines, keeping patients safe and even helping to move patients. The security guards have consistently shown they will go above and beyond when needed, now is the time for the bosses at GOSH to do the same and give these workers the contracts they deserve.”

For further information contact the UVW comms team.

Jim: 07749 765264
Isabel: 07706987443

E-mail: comms@uvwunion.org.uk   

Notes for editors

United Voices of the World is an anti-racist, member-led, direct action, campaigning trade union and we exist to support and empower the most vulnerable groups of precarious, low-paid and predominantly BAME and migrant workers in the UK. We fight the bosses through direct action on the streets and through the courts and demand that all members receive at least the London Living Wage, full pay, sick pay, dignity, equality and respect.

UVW’s previous campaigns at GOSH:

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