Barts strikers on the picket line

NHS strikers in east London are in a buoyant mood after their union won a much‑improved offer in the long-running dispute at Barts Health Trust.

The Unite union members have picketed and protested for more than ten months, demanding bosses pay them the government’s £1,650 “Covid bonus”.

Bosses refused to pay the cleaners, domestics, caterers and porters the bonus as many were transferring back to the NHS from the private sector.

That’s despite the staff having worked through the height of the Covid pandemic, putting themselves and their families at risk to keep hospitals functioning.

Now, bosses have made a new offer that will see the bonus paid in full, albeit in a complicated way so as to avoid rulings by top bosses at NHS England.

Most Barts workers will receive their money in two tranches, one in August or September and another in April or May next year.

Staff working for the Barts owned Synergy firm will get a single payment. Bosses have agreed that the union can keep its strike mandate live until all workers have all the money they are due in their pockets.

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said, “Our members have battled tooth and nail, inch by inch, to drag Barts back to the negotiating table.

“They should be incredibly proud that their efforts have led to this new offer on the table and we will now be balloting them on whether they want to accept it. This shows the power of a union.”

Unite is recommending the offer in a ballot taking place as Socialist Worker goes to press. The new offer is the result of some of the most determined action yet seen in the NHS— and is a beacon for all others still struggling over the bonus issue. 

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