by Tim Lezard GMB members are today on strike at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, despite bosses blowing £50,000 on trying to stop them. Contractor ISS splashed the cash on trying to get a High Court injunction to prevent the strike after it emerg …

Tim Lezard

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwichby Tim Lezard

GMB members are today on strike at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, despite bosses blowing £50,000 on trying to stop them.

Contractor ISS splashed the cash on trying to get a High Court injunction to prevent the strike after it emerged they were paying their staff less than those employed directly by the hospital.

GMB members employed directly by NHS will be on strike in the national pay dispute between 7-11am on 24th November, while GMB members employed by ISS as cleaners, security, ward hostesses, caterers, on the switchboard and as porters will be joining them.

Members 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.

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

Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary, said “GMB has been successful in opposing this costly attempt by ISS in the High Court today to prevent badly paid GMB members going on strike to force ISS to end the two-tier workforce at the hospital.

Those in ISS with the ability to correct the unfairness and shortcomings in a two-tier pay structure, that has led over very many months to this dispute, were not prepared to devote the cash, resources and same urgency to addressing the real issues.

Instead, they have blown £50,000 on trying to get a High Court injunction while further antagonising an already angry and unhappy workforce. What also emerged in court is that the Trust has been paying enough money since 2012 to end the two tier workforce. This is an absolute disgrace. GMB has been vindicated in standing up to this legal bullying and robbing our members of what they are entitled to”.

GMB Regional Officer Nadine Houghton said: “It is disgusting that a multi-national company the size of ISS has devoted time and money to opposing the democratic right of GMB to take industrial action, some of whom have to rely on food banks because ISS don’t pay them a decent wage.

GMB members working for ISS have decided to stage another walk out over the failure of the Trust, the PFI operator Meridian and ISS to pay staff the correct pay and terms and conditions.

“This time members will be walking out for 48hours in an escalation of the dispute that saw members stage their first 24hour walkout on the 8th October.

“There was a tripartite meeting on 13th November when GMB met ISS and managers from the Trust and Meridian. No offer was made. They gave us assurances they were working on the figures to make us an offer but failed to give us anything concrete.

“GMB first wrote to the Trust and ISS on this in April. Only now seven months later in November after a 24 hours stoppage have they actually got round the table with us. To add insult to injury the Trust failed to send senior representatives. That and the failure to make an offer is a clear message that those with the cash to resolve this aren’t as interested in settling the dispute as they should be. That is why members are staging these next two days of strike action.”


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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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