Major West London Hospital to be hit by serious disruption as over 170 cleaners and porters walk out
LONDON - - Over 170 cleaners and porters, 150 of them members of the trade union United Voices of the World (UVW), have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action this October at St. Mary’s Hospital in what will be one of the longest strikes in NHS history.
The striking workers will walk out on the 28th and 31st of October to demand equality in pay and working conditions with directly employed NHS staff. Their union has publicly committed to successive weeks of strike action that will stretch well into December if the demands of its members have not been met.
Outsourced by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to French multinational Sodexo, the striking workers are paid an hourly rate of £6.16 - £8.21, far below the £11.31 - £12.92 that in-house cleaners and porters receive under the NHS’ Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scale system.
The striking workers only have Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and cite this as forcing them to work on wards when ill - sometimes with contagious illnesses such as the flu - as they cannot afford to take time off when sick.
The workers are also forced to change in mice ridden dimly lit and mixed sex changing rooms located in the hospital basement.
They are campaigning for better single sex changing facilities as well for an end to discrimination against outsourced staff that has seen Imperial ban them from eating in NHS canteens and resting in NHS staffrooms.
One striking cleaner said, “I work 55 hours a week just to cover my rent. This [St. Mary’s] is my home, I spend more time here than in my house. Yet I am treated like a dog and made to feel like dirt”.
Co-Founder of United Voices of the World and organiser of the strikes, Petros Elia, said:
“In 2018 alone Sodexo turned a profit of 997 million euros, for the last four of the five years that its held a contract with Imperial its now former CEO, Michel Landel enjoyed obscene executive pay totalling nearly a million pounds a year and annual bonuses of up to 200% of his salary. Sodexo can afford to pay our workers in line with NHS rates and we urge them to do so - otherwise the strikes will continue”
Our members demands per strike are as follows:
* St. Mary’s Hospital – Complete equality in pay and terms of conditions between outsourced facilities staff and in-house NHS staff as set by the Agenda for Change (AfC) payscale system; vaccinations; improved single sex changing facilities and access to NHS staff canteens and staffrooms.
Strike dates are as follows:
* St. Mary’s Hospital – Round 1. 28^th, 29^th and 31^st of October. Round 2. 11^th, 12^th and 13^th of November. Round 3. 25^th, 26^th, 27^th and 28^th of November. Round 4. 9^th, 10^th, 11^th, 12^th and 13^th of December.
About UVW: United Voices of the World (UVW) is a London based trade union. The majority of its members are migrants predominantly from Latin America and the Caribbean, working in the low paid economy. In 2016 the union organised the largest cleaners strike in UK history and became the first trade union to force a UK university to bring the entirety of its outsourced cleaners in-house.
The striking workers will be joined by over other striking workers and members of UVW in what the union has dubbed an “Autumn of Discontent”. This will include striking café workers from the University of Greenwich, security guards from St. George’s University, security guards from the University of East London, gardeners and cleaners from London’s Royal Parks, cleaners from the headquarters of ITV, Channel 4 and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
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