Sodexho slammed for hiring teenage strikebreakers in Scotland

B.C.’s health authorities take notice, says HEU

The French multinational Sodexho bussed in teenagers from army camps in Wales and England in an effort to break a strike by Scottish hospital support workers, according to a August 7 report in the Glasgow Evening Times. But the effort to break the union picket lines set up Monday failed and the would-be strikebreakers were returned to their camps Wednesday.

UNISON, the union representing the 300 striking porters, cleaners and other staff, told the paper that the teenagers were not told they were being brought into a strike situation at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary.

The workers held a 72-hour strike to support their efforts to win pay and conditions equal to direct employees of the U.K.’s national health service. Sodexho holds a long-term contract for cleaning services at the hospital.

“B.C.’s health authorities should take note,” says HEU assistant secretary-business manager Zorica Bosancic. “Private corporations lining up to cash in on the Campbell Liberals’ health care sell-off come with their own style of labour relations. And we don’t want to see the heavy-handed anti-union practices used in Scotland this week in any British Columbian community.”

Just last week, another Glasgow hospital — the Victoria Infirmary — decided to scrub its contract with Sodexho and employ 250 cooks, cleaners, porters and switchboard operators directly. Cleaning services had been under the microscope at the hospital following health scares earlier in the year. Workers and their union criticized massive cuts in the cleaning staff under the Sodexho contract.

“There’s a lesson to be learned from recent developments in Scotland,” says Bosancic. “Let’s just hope B.C.’s health employers take notice.”

You can stay in touch with developments in Scotland by visiting the web site of the Scottish division of UNISON or in the Scottish media: Evening Times or BBC Scotland.