11.02.2022 / Press releases /
The High Court on Thursday 10 February served United Voices of the World (UVW) union with a temporary injunction that bans its Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) striking security guards and their supporters from “waving banners”, vigorous dancing” or even “making rapid dramatic movements” within 200 metres from the hospital.
This is a temporary order and next Wednesday 16 February UVW will return to court for a full hearing, where it will argue for the injunction to be ripped up. In the meantime, the security guards are proceeding with their speaking tour and meetings with Trades Union Councils, Labour party activists, NHS campaigners as well as fellow strikers at several other London hospitals and universities.
UVW believes this is an unprecedented legal ruling and one of the biggest legal attacks against the human rights of the trade union movement in decades. UVW will resist it vigorously.
UVW’s general secretary, Petros Elia, said: “This injunction is the latest attempt by a powerful public institution to try and silence a small group of Black, Brown and migrant low-paid workers on strike for sick pay and against discrimination. This judgement should send a signal to the entire union movement that the right to strike and protest is not given and can be taken away by a single judge at any time. It is also a sneak preview of what life will be like if the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill becomes law, allowing employers to severely restrict the ability of unions to hold picket lines, with the threat of fines or imprisonment. We must organise to protect our hard fought for rights and UVW will continue to support the security guard members strike until victory. We have also made clear that we remain available to negotiate at any time, and hope that common sense will prevail and that the security guards’ reasonable demands will be met without the need to move to an all-out strike.”
One of the striking guards said: “They are trying to gag us. They are trying to suppress us. They are hiding behind the sick children we look after and protect. We are just a few but we are determined and we will not despair. We will continue to fight and we will be heard!”
About the dispute:
The GOSH security guards began a 44-day strike on February 2 in pursuit of full sick pay and other NHS benefits they are currently denied, including NHS injury, maternity and overtime pay as well as parental leave and pension contributions. They are currently the only workers on site without NHS sick pay amid a global pandemic. Their strike is set to be one of the longest in NHS history.
One of their peaceful picket lines was violently attacked outside the offices of GOSH CEO, Matthew Shaw on Friday 4 February. A crime report was lodged with the police.
The security guards recently started legal proceedings against GOSH in a group claim in the employment tribunal, along with their cleaner colleagues, for what they are arguing is GOSH’s unlawful denial of NHS benefits amounting to indirect race discrimination in breach of the Equality Act 2010.