NHS medical couriers to go on strike on 23 and 24 May over pay cuts

admin

16 May 2019

  • Couriers working for NHS contractor TDL are striking after over a decade of stagnating pay and two rounds of paycuts in 2015 and 2017
  • Couriers deliver emergency blood and pathology samples to a number of NHS hospitals in London and the South East.
  • TDL has given massive pay increases to its top executives, as well as £ 60m in dividend payments to its investors

16 May: Medical couriers delivering emergency blood and pathology samples to over thirty NHS hospitals in London and the South East (1) will be on strike on 23 and 24 May, after two rounds of pay cuts and failed pay negotiations.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which represents the vast majority of the over 100 couriers working at the pathology services provider The Doctors Laboratory (TDL), is demanding that the company reverse pay cuts implemented in 2015 and 2017, cover the couriers' costs and implement pay increases to make up for the number of years in which these workers have had their rights denied.

TDL admitted in June 2017 that it was denying its couriers basic employment rights by wrongly classifying them as independent contractors rather than workers. The admission opened the possibility for the IWGB to create a collective bargaining unit among the courier division, which includes walkers, pushbike couriers, motorbike riders and van drivers, something it secured last spring after a ruling by the Central Arbitration Committee, despite resistance by the company.

The collective bargaining negotiations failed to secure a deal that would reverse the over a decade of stagnating pay, the approximately 30% pay cut from 2015 or the 15% cut in take-home pay, which resulted from an office move and rate changes in 2017. It also failed to give an adequate pay increase to compensate for years of denial of rights and for the dangerous nature of the job.

TDL has since tried to introduce new employee contracts that would result in the couriers taking further cuts in pay. The company has also tried to union bust, by hiring new couriers on these contracts and reducing the number of orders given to existing couriers, consequently cutting their pay.

TDL's refusal to meet the workers' demands for modest increases in pay is in sharp contrast to the generous pay rises it has given its top two executives, who earned a combined £ 2.6 million in 2017, far more than any NHS manager.

The pay rises demanded by the workers are also a drop in the ocean compared to the £60 million dividend payments made by TDL to its Australian parent company Sonic Healthcare between 2014 and 2017.

Alex Marshall, a TDL courier and chair of the IWGB’s Couriers and Logistics Branch, said: “While TDL investors and managers get fat off of NHS contracts, the couriers that risk their lives every day to deliver emergency blood and pathology samples are being left to suffer under a regime of pay cuts and neglect. We are proud of the work we do, but that doesn't mean we will allow bully managers to continue to take us for a ride. We deserve respect and decent pay.”

TDL serves NHS hospitals through HSL, a partnership between TDL, University College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

TDL couriers also deliver to several private hospital and private clinics.

-ENDS-

For more information:

Emiliano Mellino, press officer

press@iwgb.co.uk

NOTES

1) List of some of the NHS and private hospitals that TDL couriers deliver to in London and the South East

  • NHS London Hospitals for pathology services
  • Great Ormond St hospital
  • The Royal Marsden hospital
  • Chelsea and Westminster hospital
  • Kings College hospital
  • University College Hospital
  • Elizabeth Garett Anderson and Obstetric hospital
  • UCLH Macmillan Cancer centre
  • University College Hospital at Westmoreland st
  • National hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery
  • Royal Nose and Throat Hospital- RNTNE hospital
  • Guy’s Hospital
  • St Thomas’ hospital
  • Eastman Dental hospital
  • Royal Free Hospital
  • St Batholemew’s hospital
  • Hammersmith hospital
  • Northwick Park hospital
  • Ealing Hospital
  • North Middlesex University hospital
  • Watford General hospital
  • Central Middlesex hospital
  • West Middlesex University hospital
  • Charing Cross hospital
  • St George’s hospital Tooting
  • The Whittington Hospital
  • NHS London Hospitals for blood transfusion/major haemorrhage
  • University College Hospital
  • Elizabeth Garett Anderson and Obstetric hospital
  • UCLH Macmillan Cancer centre
  • University College Hospital at Westmoreland st
  • National hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery
  • Royal Nose and Throat Hospital- RNTNE hospital
  • NHS Hospitals outside London
  • Medway Maritime hospital
  • St Albans city hospital
  • Addenbrookes Hospital Cambridge
  • Epsom St Hellier hospital
  • Private hospitals
  • BMI The Sloane Hospital
  • BMI The Blackheath Hospital
  • BMI The London Independent
  • BMI Chelsfield Park Hospital
  • BMI Fawkham Manor Hospital
  • BMI Shirley Oaks
  • Croydon Day Hospital
  • Ashtead Hospital
  • Berkshire Independent Hospital
  • Blakelands Hospital
  • Bupa Cromwell Hospital
  • The Lister Hospital
  • The Wellington Hospital
  • BMI Mount Alvernia
  • BMI Princess Margaret Hospital
  • BMI Syon Clinic
  • BMI Hendon Hospital
  • BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital
  • BMI Bishops Wood Hospital
  • BMI The Chiltern Hospital
  • BMI The Cavell Hospital
  • BMI The Kings Oak Hospital