Workers employed by outsourcing giant Serco, who work in the company’s back of house catering department at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, East London, will stage a demonstration (Thursday 24 June) and have called further  strike action in the dispute over bullying and unworkable rosters.

WHEN: Thursday 24 June at 12:00

WHERE: Next to the dental building adjoining the Royal London hospital E1 1BB

Strike action begun

The workers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, began a five day strike yesterday (Monday 21 June) in the bullying and roster dispute, after talks at the conciliation service Acas failed to make any progress.

The workers, who play a key role in ensuring that food is delivered to hospital patients in their wards, have been trying without success to resolve their problems since July 2020.

Bullying behaviour

The bullying is characterised by the aggressive use of sickness absence triggers and an abuse of power in the allocation of shifts and holidays, which has left members at breaking point during the pandemic.

In addition, without consultation, management has imposed an unworkable rota system with irregular shifts across a 15 week period. Members report it is now impossible to arrange childcare while other workers report it has meant that they have been unable to complete college courses.

Serco inaction

Despite a two month delay between voting for strike action and beginning strike action, Serco has failed to address the problem of bullying and the company has failed to act to resolve the problems with its rosters. Serco was unable to offer any solutions to the members' issues during Acas talks last week.

As a result, not only did members decide to go ahead with the current strikes but they also decided to hold a further five day strike beginning at 06:00 on Monday 5 July and ending at 22:00 on Friday 9 July.

Patients affected

Unite understands that as a result of the strike action Serco is planning to supply wards in the Royal London Hospital with bulk meals and that many of the standard menu items have been cancelled, dramatically decreasing the quality of service that patients receive.

Strikes last resort

Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: “Our members have been forced to take strike action as a last resort because Serco has been unwilling or unable to address their concerns about bullying and unworkable rosters.

 “Unite gave Serco two months from when members voted for strike action to resolve the dispute, time that it has squandered, as it has failed to put forward any satisfactory solutions.

 “It is already clear that strike action is affecting the quality of the service that patients receive, this is extremely regrettable but is a direct result of Serco’s abject failures to resolve this dispute.

 “Our members have continued to work through the pandemic in an extremely stressful and dangerous environment and they deserve to be treated better than this.

 “Every worker has a right to go to work without fear and it is utterly unacceptable that Serco has allowed bullying to continue unchecked on this contract.

 “Further strike action can still be called off provided Serco returns to the negotiating table and puts forward concrete proposals to end the bullying and develop a workable roster system.”


Notes to editors:

Royal London hospital patients facing ‘food chaos’ as Serco workers to strike in bullying and roster clash

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.