Homerton Hospital security guards stop Hackney mayor and vicar giving Christmas card to chief exec calling for a ‘fairer deal’ for cleaners
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Security guards barred the Mayor of Hackney and the vicar of St John’s Hoxton from delivering a Christmas card to Homerton’s chief executive on Tuesday, urging her to bring hospital cleaning services back in-house.
Phil Glanville and Rev Graham Hunter joined hospital cleaners in a protest outside the hospital over their terms and conditions with facility services firm ISS who the contract is outsourced to.
Some staff are only entitled to statutory sick pay meaning they aren't paid for the first three days of sickness and only get £94.25 a week thereafter - the equivalent of £3.43 an hour.
Faced with the prospect of no pay at all, sometimes they end up working while they are sick.
With the ISS contract coming to an end in April, doctors and nurses joined ISS staff signing a giant Christmas card pleading with hospital chiefs to take back control.
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But the Trust would not send anyone down to receive the card, and security guards wouldn't let the mayor or the reverend in to deliver it to Homerton's chief executive Tracey Fletcher.
One witness told the Gazette: "All they wanted to do was to walk through the hospital to one of the buildings on the other side to deliver it. Phil said 'I'm the mayor of Hackney and I know Tracey. Maybe we can walk through and leave it at her office'. He wasn't being pushy, but they wouldn't even let them into reception. It was ridiculous."
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Protest organiser Lola McEvoy, from the GMB union, said: "The GMB, the mayor and Rev Hunter were shocked, but the workers said they were used to being treated like this, which I think is really sad."
The working conditions are "yet another example of the privatisation of our NHS", she said, adding: "It's simply wrong that these outsourcing giants are making a profit from taxpayer's money, off the backs of hardworking hospital staff.
"These workers are the backbone of any hospital and go above and beyond for patients. They deserve to be paid the same sick pay as those directly employed by the NHS.
Phil Glanville, who thinks staff on the ISS contract at the Homerton "deserve a fairer deal", was "disappointed" by the reaction, given hospital chiefs were aware they were coming.
"The council has a good record of in-sourcing its own services like waste and recycling, ICT, and building maintenance, and we are ready to help the Homerton go on the same journey," he added.
A spokesperson for ISS insisted the company is a "fair and responsible employer", and "committed to the wellbeing" of employees.
"Within our healthcare contracts, patients' health is of utmost importance," they said.
Homerton Hospital would not divulge how much the hospital's cleaning contract, which has been outsourced for 15 years, is worth.
Workforce director Tom Nettel said: "The Trust has always negotiated terms with the contractors which have ensured a financial benefit for the local NHS whilst maintaining a high quality of service.
"We are in ongoing dialogue with ISS and we will discuss staff terms and conditions as part of this.
"We will also liaise with all our recognised staff and union representatives about these issues and would welcome further discussions with our colleagues at the council."