GMB negotiators today meet to avert action at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich

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GMB negotiators are today taking part in last-ditch talks in a bid to avoid a Christmas strike at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich.

More than 200 GMB members employed by ISS at the hospital as cleaners, security, ward hostesses, caterers, on the switchboard and as porters have already held three days of strike action over a two-tier workforce.

The union successfully resisted attempts in November by ISS to get an injunction in the High Court preventing them holding further strikes. The members want the same pay rates and weekend enhancements and unsocial hours rates as the staff directly employed by the NHS Trust.

ISS workers are paid between £7.10 and £7.32 per hour. The lowest rate for directly employed staff is £7.33 per hour 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.

There are a number of health and safety issues to resolve too.

GMB regional officer Nadine Houghton said: “GMB members working for ISS at the hospital remain firm in their resolve to fight for the correct rates of pay for working in the NHS. This has been demonstrated through the three hugely successful days of strike action that GMB members have already staged.

“We have talks with management today but our members have made it clear that if their demands aren’t met then they will be taking another two days of strike action over Christmas”

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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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