Strike demonstration halted after hospital wins court order

Great Ormond Street Hospital said it had to act on 'excessive noise'

Friday, 18th February — By Tom Foot

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The protests outside Great Ormond Street Hospital

BANNER-WAVING and “vigorous dancing” outside Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has been banned tem­porarily after managers won an injunction against union reps.

The NHS hospital went to the high court to stop the United Voices of the World (UVW) protesting within 200 metres of the main building in Holborn.

Its application to the court said noise from a recent picket of striking security guards had left sick children “in tears” and clinical staff unable to do their jobs.

UVW – which is representing security guards who have launched a six-week strike – is challenging what they described as one of “the biggest legal attacks against the human rights of the trade union movement in decades”. The union will challenge the ruling.

UVW general secretary Petros Elia said: “This judgment should send a signal to the entire union movement that the right to strike and protest is not given and can be taken away by a single judge at any time. “We must organise to protect our hard fought for rights and UVW will continue to support the security guard members’ strike until victory.”

The strike has been called after demands for the security workers to become employed by the NHS, instead of a private company, were rejected by GOSH.

The hospital’s cleaners had been transferred “in house” last year and the UVW, which represents migrant workers, had been campaigning for security guards to follow suit. NHS employees get better employment terms and conditions – for example sick and maternity pay – than with a private contractor.

After a six-week strike was launched, a demonstration had been held outside the hospital a fortnight ago that saw speeches from campaigners including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. A second protest was held when strike supporters occupied an office of GOSH managers in a building set away from the main hospital.

A GOSH statement said: “Our first responsibility is to the children and families who depend on our hospital. “Excessive noise and disruption in recent weeks has left children in tears, families and staff feeling unsafe and clinicians unable to properly do their jobs.

“We respect the right to strike and the right to peaceful protest so, before going to court, we asked the union involved in this disrup­tion to agree to certain conditions to ensure their pickets and protests did not disrupt care. “Sadly, the union refused to agree to some of the key boundaries so we felt we had no choice but to apply for an injunction to protect our patients.”

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