Hospital ancillary staff to continue strikes after ‘partial victory’

The GMB union, which represents cleaners, caterers and ancillary staff at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, says it is about to “escalate” its industrial action after what it describes as a “partial victory” on pay.

Partial victory: cleaning and catering staff at the Bethlem Royal Hospital are to continue their dispute

The dispute will continue until the Danish-owned outsourcing company ISS, who employs the workers, “meets the pay claim submitted in 2022”, the union says.

SLaM specialises in mental health, and the Trust includes four psychiatric hospitals – Bethlem Royal Hospital at Beckenham, Lambeth Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital, as well as the Ladywell Unit based at Lewisham, and more than 100 community sites.

Following a week of strike action last month and a march on Downing Street, the workers are now to receive pay rises in their next pay round which the union says was previously owed to them.

The industrial dispute involves staff across all SLaM sites, and has involved 13 days of strike action since April. Union members will be taking a further eight days of strike action, starting from the end of this month.

Failing contract: GMB official Helen O’Connor

“While our members are pleased that they are getting some of the pay they are owed from previous years, they are disappointed they have had to resort to strike action to force ISS to hand over money owed,” said Helen O’Connor, the GMB regional organiser.

“This is only a partial victory and the dispute will continue until ISS meets the pay claim submitted by GMB in 2022.

“If ISS and the Trust fail to come around the table, the strikes are certain to escalate and cause more disruption.

“The GMB is very clear that this contract is clearly failing and breaches in contractual service provision are being recorded every single day.

“The SLaM NHS Trust needs to bring these staff back in-house and give them the pay and conditions they need to enable them to go back into work and deliver the five-star service to which the patients have become accustomed.”

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1 Response to Hospital ancillary staff to continue strikes after ‘partial victory’

  1. When I was a Unison caseworker [for a different but similar NHS Trust] before Covid, ISS gave me more grief, trouble and sleepless nights than all my other casework combined. Their managers are vindictive, bullying, mendacious, predatory, deceitful and manipulative, using blackmail, threats of transfers to remote sites, and every underhand immoral and unethical trick in the management playbook to oppress their workers, most of whom at that time had been involuntarily TUPE’d to them when their NHS service was privatised. Those in particular were vitimised and hounded because their T&C’s were better [= more expensive] than those employed subsequent to privatisation. They are implacably opposed to working with unions, though they have been obliged to by recognition agreements voted for by a majority of employees. They thrive on conflict, discord and creating unhappiness and the service offered to users of the NHS suffers dramatically as a result. And all for private profit. The sooner all such ancillary services are returned in-house to the NHS the better we all shall be.

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