Health workers in Bolton and London have won important victories against the private hospitals group, ISS Mediclean.

After a series of strikes in London, workers at Whipps Cross Hospital forced a climb-down by the multinational's management over the imposition of pay and a two-tier work system (where those joining from the NHS had better contracts than those joining after privatisation).

Meanwhile, in Bolton, workers at Royal Bolton Hospital forced yet another back-down by ISS. After 12 days of strikes spread across four weeks, management were forced to increase pay to £5.33 per hour, with night shift workers getting time and a third, and sickness benefit to be paid from day one instead of after three days. This is a major setback to private sector healthcare companies, who have sought to capitalise on casualisation in order to turn a healthy profit from undermining basic workers rights.

It just goes to show that even the most hard-nosed companies, when faced with indomitable strike action, can be forced into humiliation. They are delighted with endless negotiations, teamworking and lobbying, because they can manage them, but they can.t manage a load of people getting themselves together and walking off the job in protest. As always, direct action gets the goods! Meanwhile, the health sector trade unions are so institutionalised that they refuse to support any such real action for health workers.

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