Homerton hospital cleaners’ union threaten strike action over contract row

Domestics from the GMB union protest outside Homerton Hospital over their terms and conditions, wher

Domestics from the GMB union protest outside Homerton Hospital over their terms and conditions, where they were joined by Mayor of Hackney Phillip Glanville and the Rev Graham Hunter. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

Cleaners’ unions have threatened Homerton University Hospital with strike action amid a dispute with one of its contractors.

Unison and GMB London, which represent porters, domestics, cleaners, catering and security staff employed by ISS to work at the hospital, have entered into a “formal dispute” with the NHS Homerton University Hospital Foundation Trust over a long-running employment contract row.

It says the ISS employees do not benefit from the same contractual terms and conditions afforded to other NHS workers at the hospital, such as sick pay parity.

Homerton is due to assign a sub-contracter once again in October, and has been in discussions with ISS.

An ISS employee at Homerton Hospital said: “The worst thing is I’m not surprised. We’ve been ignored and undervalued for years.”

ISS staff at Homerton paused campaigning on the issue during the coronavirus crisis.

The worker continued: “It seems as soon as we stopped the bad publicity for them, they pulled a fast one.”

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Lola McEvoy, GMB London region organiser, described it as a “slap in the face”: “The utter contempt shown to these key workers shows a serious error of judgement by the trust.”

Carol Shorter, Unison’s regional organiser, added: “These workers are on the front line in the war against Covid-19 – cleaning Covid wards, transporting patients and keeping the hospital secure. They have stepped up during unprecedented times, and risked their lives for poverty pay.

“If they are truly ‘health heroes’, they deserve the same pay and terms and conditions as their NHS colleagues.”

A spokesperson from Homerton stressed the new contract has not yet been signed: “We see the ISS staff here as part of the Homerton family who play an important role in supporting ward staff in maintaining high standards of cleanliness; in ensuring patients are receiving healthy options of food menus every day; and providing exceptional security services to staff and patients alike.

“[...]The trust has undertaken significant engagement and dialogue with staff representatives over the past six months. The trust has sought assurances from ISS about a number of issues raised by the unions.”

A spokesperson from ISS said it “greatly values employees and the service that they provide”.