Grahame Morris MP has written to the CEO of Australian multinational Sonic Healthcare, parent company of The Doctors Laboratory (TDL), condemning the planned redundancies of 10 of the company’s lowest paid and most eco-friendly couriers. NHS contractor TDL is the UK’s leading private pathology company, and its medical couriers have been working throughout the pandemic to transport Covid-19 samples between hospitals and labs.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), who represent the majority of the 152 couriers working for TDL in London and the South East, announced this morning that medical couriers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over the proposed redundancies, and the company’s continued failure to address health and safety concerns.
IWGB has filed a trade union victimisation and whistleblower victimisation claim against the company at the employment tribunal. It states that, of the 10 workers being targeted for redundancy, the vast majority have been active in demanding better and safer working conditions.
Alex Marshall, TDL cycle courier and IWGB couriers and logistics branch chair, is among these. Following the vote in favour of strike action, he said:
“I’m incredibly proud of the work we have done during this pandemic. TDL’s cycle couriers are amongst the best in the industry, have an impeccable attendance record and in times of tremendous stress have provided a model service to the community.
Instead of rewarding us, management has decided to take away our only means to feed our families in the middle of a pandemic. But the resounding vote in favour of strike action shows that despite management’s attempts to break us, we are more united than ever.”
According to IWGB, after repeated demands, TDL is still failing to:
- Give full pay to workers that need to self-isolate because they are over-60 or have pre-existing medical conditions that put them at particular risk if they contract Covid-19
- Regularly test medical couriers for Covid-19
- Reinstate Joe Williams, a courier with diabetes and other serious medical conditions, who was unfairly dismissed during the pandemic
- Provide proper PPE to medical couriers
- Implement social distancing where possible within the company’s loading bay
Grahame Morris MP said, “TDL couriers have played a vital role in the transportation of Covid-19 samples in recent weeks, and in doing so have put themselves at personal risk. It is shameful that TDL are still failing to address the concerns of these workers. The striking medical couriers have my full support.”