Striking security guards at a world-famous children’s hospital in London have been threatened with legal action unless they effectively cease their protests for equal rights at work.
Outsourced security guards at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) are currently on strike in pursuit of full sick pay and the same benefits as staff employed directly by the NHS.
At a glance: 5 key points
- The United Voices of the World (UVW) trade union says it has been informed by GOSH that the hospital will seek a court injunction against the workers unless it “undertakes to cease all picketing at the hospital” and limit the number of people involved in any protests to six
- A group of outsourced security guards and members of the UVW are in the first week of a 44-day strike, which workers have described as a ‘last resort’ after the hospital has continually failed to negotiate with them
- The workers are calling on the hospital to bring them in-house and give them the same benefits as their NHS-employed colleagues, including sick pay, maternity pay and pension contributions
- 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”
- The union has described the legal threats as a “a draconian and unjustified encroachment on our member’s human rights” and said it will “vigorously contest any application to the court”
What’s been said?
A spokesperson for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children told NationalWorld: “We fully support the right to strike and the right to peaceful protest, but the recent conduct of protesters has caused distress to children and families and affected our ability to provide essential care.
“Our lawyers have written to the union involved in this action requesting a signed undertaking: to stay out of Trust premises; leave entries and exits clear for patients, families and staff; and protest in a manner which respects the setting of a children’s hospital.”
In a statement, UVW said: “UVW does not accept that GOSH has any right to the undertakings sought which are oppressive and a draconian and unjustified encroachment on our member’s human rights to picket and protest. UVW will vigorously contest any application to the Court.
“This threat follows five days of a planned 44-day strike by security guards in pursuit of full sick pay and other NHS benefits they are currently denied. On one of these days the peaceful picket line was violently attacked outside the offices of GOSH CEO, Matthew Shaw. A crime report was lodged with the police.”
In a statement put out before the allegations of legal threats, 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.”
UVW’s General Secretary, Petros Elia, says: “It is shocking that GOSH would rather throw tonnes of money at corporate lawyers to attack their security guard’s human rights to strike and protest, rather than simply treating them with respect and as equal members of the NHS.
“We have made clear that we remain available to negotiate at any time, and hope that common sense will prevail and that the security guards’ reasonable demands will be met without the need to move to an all-out strike."