Militant Left interviewed RVH Unite rep Darren McDonagh about the recent protest of NHS staff against the introduction of clamping workers’ cars in the Royal Victoria Hospital car park.
ML: In your opinion, is clamping an attack on health service workers?
DMcD: Yes, it absolutely is. We had to strike to win pay parity last year and now we are being charged for parking.
Privatisation is being implemented here. A private company is pursuing staff with fixed penalty notices and clamping staff cars in the pursuit of profits and all at a financial cost to low paid NHS workers.
ML: How did the protest go?
DMcD: The protest went very well. Considering I was only contacted by the media late the day before and only got word out the night before through social media, turnout was very good.
Staff are very frustrated and angry. They clearly demonstrated that in the protest. Many workers attended who have already received parking penalty notices as did those who have had their vehicles clamped.
Many cited they cannot afford this extra financial burden especially in the mouth of Christmas. Staff are already stressed coming to work with the COVID-19 pandemic.
ML: I think it would help if other unions support your campaign, what’s your thought on that?
DMcD: The more involvement with the campaign the better and certainly the more trade unions get involved the better – our members are our union. We have already agreed and started our next step in this campaign, which is to get as many staff and members of the public as possible to inundate our Health minister Robin Swann and call on him to intervene as soon as possible. Members should email firstname.lastname@example.org to object.
ML: What next in the campaign?
DMcD: Any help or assistance is greatly appreciated. We will be meeting again although given the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic this is difficult. But some ideas such as a petition were discussed today as was contacting other politicians and local councils to put pressure on them.
The workers’ protest received coverage in BelfastLive.