Strike back against the cost of living crisis

Royal London Hospital Unite workers strike

by Ian Pattison and Scott Jones

“They called us heroes, and now we’re back to just being a cleaner”, said one RMT union rep and a cleaner working on the railways. Socialist Party members went down to Parliament to support their strike on 23 February. “We want what we demand – sick pay, free travel to and through from work, and a decent wage.” The cleaners are some of millions who are struggling with the soaring cost of living.

They need a pay rise of well over £1,000 just to keep up with inflation. The workers want £15 an hour. The Socialist Party thinks all workers should get at least £15 an hour.

Unite trade union Serco outsourced workers employed by Barts Health NHS Trust strike at Royal London Hospital Whitechapel East London
Unite trade union Serco outsourced workers employed
by Barts Health NHS Trust strike at Royal London
Hospital Whitechapel East London

The union rep continued: “This is long overdue. We’ve worked through a pandemic. It’s not good enough. They offered us 20p an hour pay rise back at the height of the pandemic. We rejected it outright. Now they’re trying to bring it back in and force it down our throats. We’re not having it.” Just like thousands of other workers in hundreds of strikes reported in the Socialist every week.

The cleaners marched to the offices of Go Ahead – shareholders of one of the train companies that have outsourced cleaning to Churchill – demanding that the Go Ahead CEO come and speak to them, while chanting “Mr Brown, come down!”

Outrageously, Go Ahead told Churchill it wasn’t allowed to give out a pay rise. And the workers have accused Churchill of ripping everybody off – taking money for cleaning contracts, when, in reality, the cleaning workforce is massively understaffed.

Of course, the bosses and bankers will tell workers not to demand more, just like Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey. Real pay rises eat into their ever-growing bloated profits.

But these hundreds of disputes over pay have won victories. At present, low-paid hospital workers at Barts NHS Trust in east London, who have been on strike, have suspended their latest action after forcing an offer from management.

The cost of living crisis is deteriorating by the week, and could get worse as a result of conflict in Ukraine. Workers should not pay the price for any of this.

Join us in campaigning for democratic, fighting trade union leaderships that are up to the task of fighting back and winning. Join us in campaigning for a political voice for working-class people. And join us in campaigning for socialist change: for public ownership of the big monopolies like the energy and food companies; and for democratic socialist planning, so that no one has to struggle to survive while the wealthy get richer.