Homerton Hospital workers secure sick pay - but ‘the fight for fairness continues’ as £50m deal signed with ISS

Homerton Hospital sign:Picture Ken Mears

Homerton Hospital sign:Picture Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Homerton Hospital’s cleaners, porters and security staff will be paid sick pay “from day one” and the London living wage in a £50m with facilities giant ISS - however they will still not get NHS equivalents for their wages, pensions, overtime or annual leave.

The hospital bypassed holding a tender to renew another five-year contract with the firm which clocks in at £5m more than the last one signed in 2015.

A spokesperson for the hospital said it would cost “an additional £1m over five years but we believe it is worth doing and the right thing to do”.

Since December the GMB and Unison workers’ unions have mounted a campaign to persuade hospital chiefs to bring the outsourced services back in-house, to ensure parity for the low-paid key workers with their NHS colleagues.

Over half of the 200 staff employed by ISS were only entitled to statutory sick pay, meaning they were paid nothing at all for the first three days of sickness and just £94.25 a week thereafter.

Concerns were raised about staff working in an infectious environment during the coronavirus pandemic, and potentialy coming into work themselves while ill infecting patients, because they could not afford to take time off.

The new contract will ensure staff are paid the London Living Wage at £10.75 and full NHS sick pay.

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Michael Etheridge from Unison told the Gazette: “While this is far short of equality and what our members deserve, we will celebrate sick pay as a big victory.”

Lola McEvoy GMB’s NHS organiser is pleased with the outcome, but pointed out the outsourced staff are still being treated as “second class citizens”.

She said: “This battle has been grueling but buoyed by this win, the fight for fairness continues.

“The London living wage is great but in my view it’s the absolute minimum people need to live in London, and if you are a key worker risking your life you need to be paid the same rate as NHS workers, which would be £11.72 if they were in house.

“They don’t get a pension, they don’t get maternity pay , and they don’t get the same annual leave entitlement as other NHS staff or the CEO. Under the NHS they would get good overtime rates and unsociable hour rates, but they don’t get anything with ISS.”

READ MORE: Legality of Homerton Hospital’s proposed £45 million five-year ISS contract called into question

A spokesperson for the Homerton said: “A five year contract with ISS, worth £50m, will provide stability and continuity at a time when our energies will be focussed on the gradual but steady return of services to pre-emergency levels, whilst mindful of having to adapt to any re-emergence of coronavirus in our communities.

“We remain committed to considering the in-house option for some facilities services in the future and will be carrying out a full impact assessment process over the next two years looking at insourcing options for soft facility management services.”