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Outsourced guards at Great Ormond Street hospital continue strike action despite court ruling

After 50 days of strike action outsourced security guards at the hospital are still fighting for ‘equality, dignity and respect’

Security guards at the world-famous Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital (GOSH) have been on strike for 50 days, asking for the same terms and conditions as NHS colleagues at the hospital.

The workers are currently the only staff at the hospital on outsourced contracts, which means they do not receive sick pay and miss out on other benefits.

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Why are the security guards on strike?

Security guards at GOSH have been calling on the hospital to bring them in-house or at least provide them with the same terms and conditions as their NHS colleagues.

The hospital has previously said it outsources the security guards “to ensure a high quality, resilient service” but added that contracted workers are “highly valued members of our team” and it recognises their right “to speak up with concerns”

After the guards began a continuous six week strike action in February, the hospital launched an unprecedented legal challenge against them, effectively banning protest anywhere near the hospital.

Since then, the guards, who are members of the United Voices of the World trade union, have been travelling the country trying to raise awareness of their struggle and garner support from across the labour movement.

Following an appeal the protest ban was only partially upheld, with the strictest conditions such as banning the waving of flags within 200m of the hospital no longer in place.

Speaking from the picket line last month, striking GOSH security guard Erica, said: “The injunction restricts our pickets to six outside the hospital. GOSH trustees hope to deny us our rights to equality and to speak the truth. But we will not be silenced. We are strong. We are determined.”

Erica, who is currently pregnant, is the only member of staff in the hospital who is not entitled to receive maternity pay.

‘Fundamentally wrong’

Speaking at the rally on Friday (29 April), Labour MP for Streatham Bell Ribeiro-Addy highlighted Erica’s case.

“This is the sixth largest economy in the world. We preach and wax lyrical about how we take care of the most vulnerable, and the leaps and strides we’ve made in maternal health care, but black women are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth.

“But we are perfectly happy to allow a black woman to be put in the situation she is in, to not be given full maternal rights that women fought for for years in this country. That is fundamentally wrong.”

Along with Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum, Ribeiro-Addy has raised the case in parliament and is set to have a meeting later this month in relation to it.

The workers took strike action every Friday in April, culminating with a mass strike rally near the hospital last week.

Striker and UVW member Alex said: “All we really want is our contracts with NHS rules and regulations, so we get sick pay and our staff when they get pregnant, they get maternity cover.”

“Because the NHS should not be outsourced at all. No ‘key worker’ should be outsourced. We should all be in-house and we should get a fair rate of pay, be treated fairly; everyone should get treated fairly”.

A spokesperson for Great Ormond Street Hospital said: “Like many hospitals, we operate a mixed model where some services are provided in-house and some are bought from suppliers.

“Our security service has been contracted for many years to ensure a high quality, resilient service that meets industry regulations. In-house or otherwise, these colleagues are highly valued members of our team. We recognise their vital contribution and their right to speak up with concerns.”