On Thursday and Friday next week (23 and 24 May) medical couriers at The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) will be going on strike, and IWGB members are encouraged to show solidarity for our cycle couriers who provide blood delivery services to more than 50 NHS and private hospitals on behalf of this private company.

The focus of the action will take place at TDL’s Euston Road headquarters (95 Euston Rd, Kings Cross, London NW1 2RA) from 7.30am–1.30pm on both days. However, the main event that as many people as possible are being encouraged to attend will be from 12 noon–1.30pm on the Thursday. A range of speakers have accepted invitations to take part. 

All sorts of activities are lined up for the two days and a Facebook event “SAVE LIVES NOT PENNIES” has been launched. IWGB members are urged to show their support at this Facebook page, which will reassure and empower the workers taking part in the strike – a decision that was not taken lightly.

After years of mistreatment TDL couriers unionised in 2018 in the hope of achieving better working conditions and an increase in pay that had stagnated for years. The IWGB has been engaged in talks with TDL for the last year, but the company has done everything it can to delay negotiations and has continued to treat the couriers with contempt. 

Indeed, TDL decided to cease negotiations and instead pursue forced employment on its self-employed couriers which would mean huge pay cuts. This was the final straw. The couriers decided there was no other option than to ballot for a strike with 84.6 per cent voting to take industrial action.

A large part of TDL’s ridiculous wealth is founded on the dismantling of the NHS through privatisation. As the NHS is slowly broken down TDL hoovers up services and transform them into huge profit for the senior management and shareholders.  

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. They earned a combined £2.6 million in 2017with the highest paid director doubling his pay since 2013 to £1.6m,far more than any NHS manager. The company’s Australian owner, Sonic Healthcare, has received £60 million from the business over the last 5 years. While this company is turning over such astronomical profits, it is looking for ways to squeeze the long-serving, hardworking couriers.

As Alex Marshall, a TDL courier and IWGB member, said: “While TDL investors and managers get fat off 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.”