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Black Lives Matter protesters support Homerton Hospital staff in campaign to tackle inequality

PUBLISHED: 14:11 14 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:44 14 July 2020

Union members at Homerton Hospital have reignited a campaign for equality for outsourced staff. Picture: Dean Ryan

Union members at Homerton Hospital have reignited a campaign for equality for outsourced staff. Picture: Dean Ryan

Dean Ryan

Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside Homerton Hospital to listen to BAME healthworkers speak about racism and celebrate the NHS on the eve of its 72nd birthday.

Protesters listened to healthcare workers share their experiences of dealing with racism in their jobs and in their perosnal lives. Picture; Dean RyanProtesters listened to healthcare workers share their experiences of dealing with racism in their jobs and in their perosnal lives. Picture; Dean Ryan

Healthcare workers, like Ariane Dunwell spoke passionately about their experiences dealing with racism in their professional and personal lives.

She said: “As a black person I have the added burden that I’m going to be treated judged or discriminated against because of the colour of my skin.

“This is a feeling I live with every single day.”

A union representative also demanded to know why hospital management was not “valuing out-sourced workers” following an ongoing dispute over equal pay and working conditions for subcontracted ISS workers.

Campaigners at the protest organised by Hackney Stand Up To Racism (HSUTR) said the hospital could beging to challenge  instituational racism in the NHS by dealing with ongoing issues with ISS workers. Picture:Dean RyanCampaigners at the protest organised by Hackney Stand Up To Racism (HSUTR) said the hospital could beging to challenge instituational racism in the NHS by dealing with ongoing issues with ISS workers. Picture:Dean Ryan

The hospital’s Unison representative said: “72 years after the NHS was founded cleaners, porters, [security] and catering staff in this hospital are being forced to choose between coming into work sick or struggling to pay their rent and bills.”

READ MORE: Outsourcing firm ISS will pay Homerton Hospital cleaners sick pay if they must self-isolate over coronavirus

Campaigners are working to ensure around half of the 300 people employed by ISS, who rely on statutory sick pay, “get proper” occupational sick pay to cover living costs if they become ill.

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Healthcare workers and 170 doctors at Homerton have signed a petition to support equal pay for all workers and bring ISS staff “back in house”.

Some out-sourced workers are paid around £1,500 per year less in their basic salary than the lowest NHS pay band and campaigners say the firm’s own figures show nearly 80 percent of ISS staff are BAME, though ISS has not yet confirmed the statistic with the Gazette.

READ MORE: Homerton hospital cleaners’ union threaten strike action over contract row

Activists believe the hospital could help tackle institutional racism by addressing ongoing issues with ISS staff.

Activists joined healthworkers and ISS staff at A Black Lives Matter vigil outside the hospital on the eve of the NHS's 72nd birthday. Picture: Dean RyanActivists joined healthworkers and ISS staff at A Black Lives Matter vigil outside the hospital on the eve of the NHS's 72nd birthday. Picture: Dean Ryan

A spokesperson for the outsourcing firm said: “ISS employees based at Homerton Hospital receive the London Living Wage which is significantly higher than the National Minimum Wage and at least full Statutory Sick Pay.

“We embrace the diversity of our workforce and we do not accept discrimination of any kind. We believe in equality, fairness and respect and have a zero-tolerance approach to behaviours that do not support our values.”

The protest on July 3 was organised by Hackney Stand Up To Racism.

Homerton Hospital has been contacted for comment.

The hospital is due to assign a sub-contractor in October and has been in discussion with ISS.


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