For the past month cleaners and other staff at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon have been campaigning against racism, bullying, and unfair treatment by their employer Carillion. The campaign has included 12 days of strike action by over 100 workers in the GMB union and numerous demonstrations.
On Saturday, as the workers are set to enter another week of strikes, they held their largest demonstration to date. They were joined by locals from Swindon including the National Union of Teachers, Unite, and Swindon anarchists; as well as groups from around the region such as Bristol Anarchist Federation, Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Party.
The demo was lively as the cleaners and their supporters (totalling around 350 people) marched and danced their way through the streets of Swindon. There was unanimous support for the strikers amongst all the passers by we spoke to, with some showing particular interest in the fact strikes were spreading from the public sector to the private sector.
The dispute began due to the mostly Goan cleaners facing constant bullying and harassment from Carillion, despite 109 individual complaints the company refuses to accept and deal with what the cleaners have described as institutional racism. There are also demands for the right to take their holiday in blocks larger than ten days to allow people to visit their families, and accusations of corruption amongst the Carillion management. Whilst the company seems to think it can ride out the dispute with scab labour bussed in from other sites, the GMB is digging in for a long fight and they have the passion, energy and drive to see this through.
For more information or to get involved in the continuing actions get in touch with Swindon anarchists: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also reported on BBC News