Croydon Hospital workers vote to take strike action

ISS workers’ strike. Pic: Helen O’Connor

Outsourced porters and domestic workers at Croydon University Hospital have announced a 48-hour strike planned for the end of October.

The workers are demanding bonuses and sick pay be brought in line with their in-housed NHS counterparts.

The GMB trade union called on members to ballot for a strike on October 6 after their employer, the private contractor G4S, failed to concede to their demands. 

Out of the 60 per cent of members who returned their ballots, 97 per voted in favour of strike action.

Helen O’Connor, GNB regional organiser, told Eastlondonlines “Our members want a full agenda for change. They want the full sick pay, as well as social hours for working the weekends and holidays, that NHS workers get.”

O’Connor said the number of employees on NHS contracts is diminishing significantly, while private contracts are increasing.

She added that G4S has also reduced overtime across all contracts to make savings, and that the workload has increased dramatically as vacancies are not being filled. 

A G4S spokesperson told ELL: “All our employees at Croydon University Hospital are treated fairly and with respect.”

“We have made significant progress in increasing salaries; including moving all employees from the National to the London Living Wage and in June, employees received an uplift in their salaries which was back dated from April.”

The spokesperson added that talks with union members and employees are ongoing.

Workers have accused the NHS of operating a two-tier system after in-house staff were recently awarded Covid bonuses and a £1600 top-up.

The union is demanding parity, including equal sick pay, which entails full pay for six months, in contrast to G4S employees who have only up to eight days of sick pay before their contract reverts to statutory benefits.

O’Connor said: “If you’re sick long term, you only get 96 pounds a week, and no one can live on that.”

“People can’t afford to go sick, so they do need a decent sick pay scheme.”

She continued: “I don’t see what the problem is with bringing in a decent sick-pay scheme for hospital workers, where it’s full of diseases and infections with a likelihood of getting injured.”

O’Connor said she had received reports of managers threatening to fire workers who go on strike.

In July of this year, GMB members employed by private contractor ISS at South London & Maudsley NHS Trust won a 17% pay rise and a Covid bonus after going on a 13-day strike.

The union will serve official notice of the strike to the employer, G4S, on October 16.

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