GMB calls for urgent action from the health secretary after ISS denies sick pay to stroke victim
Government warns that private NHS profiteers could be in contempt of parliament for trying to prevent GMB members speaking to MPs
The Government has warned a private NHS contractor could be in contempt of Parliament after trying to prevent GMB from speaking to MPs
Private company ISS, which holds the cleaning, catering and portering contract at Kingston Hospital, refuse to give workers sick pay– even one who suffered a stroke – as well as denying them a living wage.
This means cash-strapped workers head into the hospital for work even if they are seriously ill – creating an infection risk for patients.
ISS tried to resolve the matter by offering GMB a recognition agreement that would have prevented the union ever raising any of its members issues with any politician - a unheard clause and one that cabinet Minister David Liddington stated may be in contempt of Parliament.
Hundreds of people protested against ISS’s shocking treatment of workers at a mass rally last week.
Responding to a question from Steve Reed MP during Prime Minister’s Questions, Cabinet Minister David Lidington said:
“There is no excuse for any organisation, nor any individual, to try and stop a constituent approaching their member of parliament and while it is a matter utterly for you Mr Speaker…there have been previous occasions where such attempts have been ruled as a contempt of a Parliament.”
Mr Lidington also said health secretary Matt Hancock is ready to go through the sick pay issue with Mr Reed.
Helen O'Connor, GMB Organiser, said: “It’s good the Government acknowledge ISS's no campaigning clause potentially leaves them in contempt of parliament.
“And we’re glad the draconian terms of the contract are so serious as to lead to discussions with the Secretary of State.
“However we call for urgent action from the health secretary; this is clearly a massive public health issue – not only for our members themselves but from the infection risk to the patients
“Mr Hancock cannot just kick this into the long grass.”
Notes to Editors:
 Full text of Steve Reed MP’s question
ISS are private contractors who employ some of my constituents as porters and cleaners at Kingston hospital - but they won’t pay them sick pay
One was refused sick pay after suffering a stroke and coercing people who are sick to come into a hospital risks infecting vulnerable patents.
ISS have now threatened to break off negotiations with the GMB trade union if there is any political campaigning in this issue, including contacting MPs.
Will he condemn ISS for undermining their workers’ basic democratic right to contact their MP and will he call on ISS to pay their workers fairly, including when they are sick.
 Full text of David Lidington’s response
There are two issues raised there. The point about access to a member of Parliament there is no excuse for any organisation nor any individual to try and stop a constituent approaching their member of parliament and while it is a matter utterly for you Mr Speaker…there have been previous occasions where such attempts have been ruled as a contempt of a parliament,
So I hope that message will go back.
On the substantive point about the operation of the contract clearly the contract would have been let by the relevant part of the NHS but the health secretary has indicated to me he is very willing to sit down with the honourable member and talk through the details