IWGB files High Court proceedings to force the Prime Minister to abide by the Brexit extension bill
7 days ago
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.
For more information:
Emiliano Mellino, press officer
1) List of some of the NHS and private hospitals that TDL couriers deliver to in London and the South East