by Tim Lezard GMB members employed by contractor ISS at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich are today on strike over a two tier workforce in the NHS. More than 200 GMB members are employed by ISS at the hospital as cleaners, security, ward hostesses, …

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Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwichby Tim Lezard

GMB members employed by contractor ISS at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich are today on strike over a two tier workforce in the NHS.

More than 200 GMB members are employed by ISS at the hospital as cleaners, security, ward hostesses, caterers, on the switchboard and as porters.

They want the same pay rates and weekend enhancements and unsocial hours rates as the staff directly employed by the Trust.

ISS workers are paid between £7.10 and £7.32 per hour. The lowest rate for directly employed staff is £7.33 ph which moves in yearly increments to £7.51 and £7.69 under the current NHS pay progression system.

ISS staff who work unsocial hours get between 90p – £2:05per hour. As direct staff they would be entitled to time and a half, ISS staff work on Saturday get time and a quarter. As direct staff this would be time and a half. When they work Sunday or a bank holiday they get time and a half. As direct staff this would be double time. ISS also pay less than sick pay for weekend.

GMB regional officer Nadine Houghton said: “GMB members want an end to the two- tier workforce within the hospital. They want the same pay rates and weekend enhancements and unsocial hours rates as the staff directly employed by the Trust.

“GMB does not accept that outsourcing mean that public sector employers can simply outsource the responsibility for the staff and duck their responsibilities by arguing that they are employed by someone else. For too long these staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital have felt undervalued, bullied and exploited. This will not be accepted.

“GMB members do not take strike action lightly, especially not in a hospital but members have been left with no choice but go ahead with this official strike action. GMB contacted the Lewisham and Greenwich Trust and ISS months ago and no attempts have been made to meet us to settle the dispute. The Trust should step in to force the PFI contractor for the hospital Meridian Hospitals PLC and ISS to enter into negotiations to avert this stoppage.

“Local MP Teresa Pearce has written to Meridian to ask them to help settle the dispute.

“Meridian Hospitals PLC paid a dividend of £2,772, 000 last year. This money is going straight from the public purse into private pockets. A fraction of this money could be used to pay our members what they deserve.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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