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Sunday 20th October 2019

Patients not Passports

  • 23rd October 2019 – Counting the Cost of the Hostile Environment in the NHS Vigil & protest for the victims of the Hostile Environment

    Please join us on October 23rd for two actions to mark the 2 year anniversary of the expansion of charging and ID checking across the NHS.

    There will be events happening simultaneously across the country – in London, Bristol, Birmingham, and Manchester.

    We will highlight the harm done by racist Hostile Environment policies in our NHS. We will commemorate those who have died and suffered, and those who are currently suffering, as a result of these policies.

    Join us to demand an end to all forms of immigration control in our health service and universal healthcare for all.

    Morning: Direct action at a central London location (we will post further details soon).

    4:30 – 21:00: Vigils

    Vigils outside:

    – A central London Hospital (site to be confirmed)

    – Lewisham Hospital

    London facebook event

    Bristol facebook event (5.30-7.30pm at Bristol Royal Infirmary, hosted by Bristol Patients Not Passports)

    Birmingham facebook event (5.30-7pm at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, hosted by Docs Not Cops Birmingham)

    Manchester facebook event (5.30-6.30pm at St Peters Square, hosted by Docs Not Cops, Unis Resist Border Controls and Greater Manchester Keep Our NHS Public)

    For more information on charging in the NHS and challenging the Hostile Environment, see


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Wednesday 16th October 2019

PDA Pharmacists Union

  • Results of survey on impact of Brexit on supply of medicines

    Results of survey of pharmacists about problems with medicines supply and the possible effects of Brexit

    The PDA undertook a survey of pharmacists in August/September and it has received over 1,000 responses.

    Pharmacists who responded said that on average they had already seen shortages affect 21% of prescription drugs in the last 3 months, with over 90% of respondents feeling that the shortages had increased over the last 12 months.

    Dealing with drug shortages is already taking up significant time with 62% of respondents saying they spend an hour or more every day trying to sort out problems caused by medicine shortages.

    25% said that they were aware of patient harm as a result of shortages.

    When asked about the effect of a no-deal Brexit, over 81% of respondents felt that medicines shortages would get worse, with 55% believing they would get ‘much worse’.

    The full survey including numerous comments from concerned pharmacists can be found at the link below.


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Monday 14th October 2019

United Voices of the World (UVW) Press Release

  • Major West London Hospital to be hit by serious disruption as over 170 cleaners and porters walk out

    LONDON - - Over 170 cleaners and porters, 150 of them members of the trade union United Voices of the World (UVW), have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action this October at St. Mary’s Hospital in what will be one of the longest strikes in NHS history.

    The striking workers will walk out on the 28th and 31st of October to demand equality in pay and working conditions with directly employed NHS staff. Their union has publicly committed to successive weeks of strike action that will stretch well into December if the demands of its members have not been met.

    Outsourced by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to French multinational Sodexo, the striking workers are paid an hourly rate of £6.16 - £8.21, far below the £11.31 - £12.92 that in-house cleaners and porters receive under the NHS’ Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scale system.

    The striking workers only have Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and cite this as forcing them to work on wards when ill - sometimes with contagious illnesses such as the flu - as they cannot afford to take time off when sick.

    The workers are also forced to change in mice ridden dimly lit and mixed sex changing rooms located in the hospital basement.

    They are campaigning for better single sex changing facilities as well for an end to discrimination against outsourced staff that has seen Imperial ban them from eating in NHS canteens and resting in NHS staffrooms.

    One striking cleaner said, “I work 55 hours a week just to cover my rent. This [St. Mary’s] is my home, I spend more time here than in my house. Yet I am treated like a dog and made to feel like dirt”.

    Co-Founder of United Voices of the World and organiser of the strikes, Petros Elia, said:

    “In 2018 alone Sodexo turned a profit of 997 million euros, for the last four of the five years that its held a contract with Imperial its now former CEO, Michel Landel enjoyed obscene executive pay totalling nearly a million pounds a year and annual bonuses of up to 200% of his salary. Sodexo can afford to pay our workers in line with NHS rates and we urge them to do so - otherwise the strikes will continue”

    --ENDS--

    Our members demands per strike are as follows:

    * St. Mary’s Hospital – Complete equality in pay and terms of conditions between outsourced facilities staff and in-house NHS staff as set by the Agenda for Change (AfC) payscale system; vaccinations; improved single sex changing facilities and access to NHS staff canteens and staffrooms.

    Strike dates are as follows:

    * St. Mary’s Hospital – Round 1. 28^th, 29^th and 31^st of October. Round 2. 11^th, 12^th and 13^th of November. Round 3. 25^th, 26^th, 27^th and 28^th of November. Round 4. 9^th, 10^th, 11^th, 12^th and 13^th of December.

    About UVW: United Voices of the World (UVW) is a London based trade union. The majority of its members are migrants predominantly from Latin America and the Caribbean, working in the low paid economy. In 2016 the union organised the largest cleaners strike in UK history and became the first trade union to force a UK university to bring the entirety of its outsourced cleaners in-house.

    The striking workers will be joined by over other striking workers and members of UVW in what the union has dubbed an “Autumn of Discontent”. This will include striking café workers from the University of Greenwich, security guards from St. George’s University, security guards from the University of East London, gardeners and cleaners from London’s Royal Parks, cleaners from the headquarters of ITV, Channel 4 and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).


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Friday 4th October 2019

The NHS complicit in the exploitation of migrant workers: it has to stop!

  • By Petros Elia, Co-founder and organiser, United Voices of the World

    This October United Voices of the World (UVW) will coordinate ongoing and indefinite strike action across London. Strike action that will see our members – the majority of whom are migrants – enter into direct conflict with several of the capital’s biggest employers; with the largest strike set to take place at St. Mary’s Hospital where over 170 of our members working as outsourced cleaners and porters will demand that their employer - French multinational Sodexo - grant them parity in pay and working conditions with NHS staff.

    UVW has years of experience in organising low-paid migrant workers, and we have seen just how big the scale of complicity is between outsourcing companies and their clients in propping up what is at its core, a racist economic model.

    Our members are employed by some of the world’s biggest outsourcing companies, companies that report annual profits in hundreds of millions to billions of pounds. Yet these profits are made by paying migrant workers poverty wages and employing them on the worst terms and conditions legally possible.

    In other words, the outsourcing model is inherently predatory and thrives upon creating a racialised two-tier workforce in which ethnic minority workers - and in particular ethnic minority women – are forced to bear the brunt of brazen exploitation. 

    When people read stories of how Harrods, Chanel, Ferrari and Topshop have been complicit in hiring migrant labourers who are paid poverty wages and enjoy little to no job security the majority are, rather cynically not that surprised. Yet what would surprise many, is the degree to which supposedly “socially responsible” employers, such as the University of London - which incidentally will experience strike action at three of its universities this October (Greenwich University, the University of East London and St. George’s University) - have also become complicit in propping up this predatory, and ultimately, racist economic model.

    But nowhere would people be more alarmed to see this than in the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS was originally founded according to the principle that healthcare is a human right and not a privilege. And that as need takes priority over the ability to pay, a healthcare system should be both free at the point of use and publicly owned and funded. So as to ensure that we as a society can mutually insure one another from the risk and certainty of illness.

    But from the infamous “salami slicing” of Thatcher through to the privatisation of the Blair years and the savage onslaught of austerity and privatisation unleashed by successive Conservative led governments, we have seen the erosion of this egalitarian logic.

    The hostile environment policy which brought us the Windrush Scandal and has seen both British citizens, migrants and asylum seekers denied NHS medical treatment - in some cases lifesaving treatment - and is one of the starkest reminders of how the NHS is not immune from wider societal logics of racism, of which the proliferation of the outsourcing model is another symptom.

    It has now become routine for NHS Trusts to outsource entire swathes of their facilities operations to outsourcing companies, meaning that taxpayers’ money is going to companies who make their profits by exploiting and mistreating primarily migrant workers. And French multinational Sodexo who has held a facilities contract with St. Mary’s Hospital since October 2014 is one of the worst offenders.

    Sodexo pays the cleaners and porters who work tirelessly to keep the wards of St. Mary’s Hospital infection free an hourly rate of £6.16 - £8.21 per hour, leaving them £6K - £10K worse off per year than their NHS colleagues of a similar grade. It also employs them on the worst terms and conditions legally possible and has brazenly endangered both their safety and patient safety by refusing to comply with its legal obligation to vaccinate its workers. Yet Sodexo’s disregard for worker and patient safety does not stop there.

    Our members have consistently asked Sodexo to provide them with sufficient spare uniforms so that they can wash their uniforms after a day’s work and still turn up in fresh ones the following morning. Rightly they do not expect that they should have to work in dirty uniforms and increase the risk of spreading infection on the very wards they are trying to keep clean. Nor do they expect to be paid so little and have such little job security that they have to turn up to work when they themselves are ill – and therefore risk spreading flu But in its desire to make a profit, and to pay out obscene executive pay and bonuses, Sodexo has happily endangered the safety of its workers and patients.

    Recently, UVW analysed Sodexo’s Annual Reports from 2014 – 2018 which cover the last four of the five years Sodexo has held a contract with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. What they revealed was a company making staggering yearly profits – in 2018 alone Sodexo made a profit of 994 million euros – and a board of directors enjoying obscenely high annual salaries and bonuses whilst forcing our members to work in dirty uniforms for poverty wages.

    Between 2014 – 2018 the now former CEO of Sodexo, Michel Landel, enjoyed an annual salary of 933,400 euros and annual bonuses equivalent to 200% of his salary. On top of this he annually received 42,000 “performance shares” which between the years 2014 – 2018 were estimated by Sodexo to have a combined value of 10,629,760 euros. And what needs to be understood is that this is not an anomaly with one greedy CEO sat at the top of a company taking more than is his fair share.

    All of Sodexo’s non-executive directors have enjoyed ever increasing annual salaries worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and ever-increasing directors’ fees (in 2013 Sodexo paid out €561,840 in directors’ fees whilst in 2018 the figure stood at €879,000) during the same time in which our members have struggled to scrape a living.

    Ultimately our members are not asking for the earth; they are simply asking to enjoy full equality in pay and working conditions with their NHS colleagues and that Sodexo provide them with sufficient uniforms and adhere to its legal obligation to vaccinate them. As a union we cannot stand by whilst workers are exploited and as a campaigning trade union with anti-racism at our core, we also have a duty to call out the clients of outsourcing companies for propping up a business model that is explicitly predicated upon the exploitation of migrant workers.

    And this is needed now more than ever, given the toxic climate against migrants that has been created by the Brexit referendum. With even some who claim to be on the left parroting the narrative that the decline and stagnation of wages and union density over the past decades is a result of migrant labour pushing wages down. Something which could not be further from the truth: it is companies like Sodexo who push down wages, and the Left’s answer can never be turn amongst ourselves and pit migrant workers against national workers. The answer is to organise and challenge the outsourcing model head on. 

    The public would not take kindly to knowing that the NHS – an institution originally founded upon the principles of social solidarity and equality – is becoming complicit in paying the hardworking staff upon which both it, and patients rely, poverty wages. Our members are not the dirt they clean, they deserve better. And that is why this October they will go on strike. And you can support them by donating to their strike fund at www.uvwunion.org.uk/strikefund  

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