Saturday, February 21, 2009

Barking Hospital Strike 1984


Crothall's (a subsidiary of Pritchards) held the contract for hospital cleaning at Barking Hospital in East London for a number of years prior to 1984.

This company had close links to the Conservative Party and in particular arch privateer Michael Forsyth MP (Stirling) who's Michael Forsyth Associates were consultants to Pritchards. (Likewise Lord Ashcroft and Mediclean)

Michael Forsyth now states hospital cleaning privatisation went to far in driving down standards, however his late clarification of his views, fail to hide the fact that thousands of patients have needlessly died or been maimed as a direct result of the Tories hospital cleaning privatisation, which deliberately and callously drove down cleaning hours and standards.

After the introduction of the Tories hospital cleaning privatisation at all cost charter outlined in the now infamous and hated
DHSS Circular (HC) 18 83 .

This Circular forced hospital to award hospital cleaning contracts to the lowest tender and cared little for the impact on cross infection or staff pay and conditions, it was riddled with Tory dogma, revenge for the 1982 hospital workers pay battle.

Crothalls decided that in order to maintain the contract at Barking Hospital they would reduce the cost by a massive 41%. Cleaning hours were cut from 2,189 to 1,330, the cleaners pay by a third, cut holiday pay from 4 weeks to three weeks, no sick pay and massive changes in staff shifts.

When the Barking Hospital cleaners(mainly NUPE members) came out on strike in March 1983, Crothalls sacked them using the new anti union laws introduced by the Tories,

Rodney Bickerstaffe NUPE General Secretary stated that Barking Hospital was "our Cortonwood" in a reference to the Miners strike against pit closures.

A London wide day of Action was organised by rank & file activists and did secure good support, even in areas such as Hillingdon where solidarity action had previously been unknown.

Their s very strong 24 hour picket line at the hospital, but unfortunately Police showed every sympathy with the casual labour now filling the strikes jobs arrested numerous activists.

The depute went o into 1985, but the very courageous battle waged by the women (with the support of Barking Health Emergency) the strike ended in defeat.

However, they had manged to highlight the very real impact of privatisation on cleaning standards and staff.

At Barking Hospital cross infection rates at the hospital soared and cockroaches were founding crawling in the hospital's baby incubator's.

Hospital cleaners were forced to strike against OCS contractors at Addenbrookes hospital (Cambridge), six months at Scarsdale Hospital, Chesterfield and three months at Hammersmith against Mediclean.

One Day strike organised by COHSE and NUPE Domestics at Hillingdon Hospital 23rd May 1985. (100%) (pic below)

The strike was in protest at the hospital's privatisation programme and support with Barking hospital strikers.

Management asked them either to lose their bonus or be privatised. The staff voted overwhelmingly against cutting their bonus.

The strike was equally solid amongst white staff from Colham and Asian staff from Southall