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POLICE OFFICERS threatened to arrest striking security guards at a London university hospital for a second time today as they launched another round of walkouts.
The security team at St George’s (SGUL) in Tooting, south London, are striking to end the “discriminatory regime of outsourcing.”
The first round of strikes earlier this month was broken up by police who arrested a trade union lawyer and threatened to apprehend the 25 security guards.
No arrests were made today, but police turned up ahead of the picket to warn strikers against protesting on NHS property.
The strikers’ union United Voices of the World (UVW) said that the police had accused them of the crime of “causing a nuisance on NHS property” as St George’s campus sits next to hospital grounds.
The security guards along with their supporters went ahead despite the threats, union rep Petros Elia told the Star.
“They [the police] turned up to threaten everyone again, saying ‘if you step on the property we will arrest you’,” Mr Elia explained.
“We changed tack this time and went to the main entrance and managed to successfully stay on the picket for three-and-a-half hours.”
The union has expressed deep concerns over police attempts to break up a legal strike, accusing officers of “acting as St George’s Trust’s private security.”
Their lawyer is also suing the police for unlawful arrest and imprisonment after he was apprehended during the first round of strikes on January 13.
Franck Magennis is arguing that a legal picket does not constitute a “nuisance” under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.
Following the events, numerous trade union branches have signed a solidarity letter with the UVW strikers condemning SGUL and the site’s landlord St George’s Trust.
“Franck’s arrest and the threat to arrest the security guards on the strike is an affront to their human rights to which SGUL and St George’s Trust are complicit,” the letter reads.
“We do not accept that there is any excuse to continue to maintain a two-tiered racially segregated workforce at SGUL.”
The largely black and ethnic minority workforce are demanding better pay and work conditions on par with staff directly employed by the university.
A SGUL spokesperson said: “The University and St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust wrote jointly to the Union last week, explaining their long-standing position of not allowing any picketing or demonstration activity anywhere on the site we both share.
“This joint position is designed to protect the well-being of patients, visitors, staff and students accessing the site. This is a responsibility both organisations take very seriously.”
Updated January 28.
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