Save Our Hospitals Campaigners Join Protest at Charing Cross

As porters, cleaners and domestic staff demand more than minimum wage

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Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

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Save Our Hospitals campaigners joined hospital support workers protesting at Charing Cross over poverty pay on Tuesday, 30 April.

The campaigner, seen here joining outside the hospital on Fulham Palace Road, tweeted the photo, saying: " Supporting the low paid staff at Charing Cross Hospital!"

Protests were held throughout the day by staff including porters, cleaners and domestic staff at three local hospitals - Hammersmith Hospital in Shepherd's Bush, Charing Cross Hospital in Fulham Palace Road and St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.

The workers' union GMB arranged the protests involving staff who work for French multinational Sodexo, who say that they have had enough of minimum wage pay.

They are also considering strike action.

1,100 Sodexo staff work in the three hospitals, which all belong to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

One worker in Hammersmith Hospital, a mother of three, said: "We all do our best for the hospital, I clean blood, vomit and faeces, day in and day out. I think I am worth and deserve more than the minimum wage."    

A porter at St Mary’s Hospital said: "None of us want to go on strike but we will protest. I love my job but I am only surviving in London on the minimum wages of £8.21.

" I cannot take this anymore and many of my colleagues feel the same."

The GMB Union's Michael Dooley said: " We have met with Sodexo bosses and Sodexo have said that they will not pay an increase. We have arranged to speak with them again but in the meantime we will continue our protests.

"We have not ruled out strike action but many of our members do not want to disrupt the patient’s routine so they will protest for now to show the hospital trust, the public and their employer that they are not sitting back and accepting poverty pay when other workers get the London Living Wage."

"The staff in the NHS should be properly rewarded for their labour, this includes the staff who have been contracted out who undertake the work that keeps the hospital running and patients comfortable and safe."

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust admits that around a half of the staff employed in these roles receive only the statutory minimum hourly rate, set by the government and determined by their age.

However, it says it has started the re-tendering process for its facilities management contract and is to specify the London Living Wage (LLW) as a minimum pay rate for this and all new support service contracts.

The successful provider is expected to be in place by April 2020, and the Trust's decision on the London Living Wage will have its first impact on the facilities management contract, covering cleaning, patient dining, portering and helpdesk functions.

The Trust will also require that all new contracts specify that any annual uplifts to the LLW are applied.

Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "We know how important it is for patient care that all our staff feel fully valued, motivated and engaged; the move to the London Living Wage for indirectly employed staff is part of ensuring this. We are grateful for the views of our support staff and their representatives for helping us to reach this decision."

All employers in the UK must legally apply either the National Living Wage (NLW) for staff 25 and over, or the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for those under 25.

The London Living Wage is the hourly minimum wage set annually by the Living Wage Foundation and calculated by the Resolution Foundation based on the best available evidence about living standards in the UK.

It is optional for employers but is intended to raise the pay of those on the lowest incomes to ensure it covers the basic cost of living and working in London. All staff directly employed by the Trust are already paid above the LLW.

April 26, 2019


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