THE shadow chancellor told striking hospital workers at the weekend that their fight for better pay is “justified” as he pledged 100 per cent support for the campaign.
John McDonnell was speaking at a rally outside the Royal London Hospital in east London on Saturday in support of hundreds of striking cleaners, porters and security staff employed by private contractor Serco at Barts NHS Trust.
Serco has “exploited” its workers, Mr McDonnell said, accusing the privateers of “lining their pockets” at its staff’s expense.
“It is not much to ask, is it? In the fifth-richest country in the world, in the richest city in the fifth-richest country in the world, to earn a decent wage where you can feed your children and house your family.”
Around 700 Unite members are on strike across four London hospitals as they fight for a 3 per cent pay rise, the equivalent of 30p an hour.
Saturday marked the fifth day of a seven-day strike which was called after Serco rejected the workers’ request for a modest 30p an hour increase last month.
Some of the strikers have been forced to work two or three jobs to cope with rising living costs in the capital.
“To be frank, they’re not bothered about the workers they employ and they’re not bothered about the service they provide,” Mr McDonnell stormed. “This strike is justified. This dispute is about basic human rights. And we will support you throughout, until we win.”
Addressing the crowd, striking worker and Unite member Mary Agye said: “Serco are rich. They think we are nothing. But together we are stronger and if we are together as one we can win.”
Serco director Phil Mitchell said: “We believe strongly in ensuring our dedicated team are rewarded fairly, which is why we agreed with the Trust to pay all our team members a minimum of the London Living Wage from day one.”