GMB welcome intervention from Secretary of State for Health over ISS employment practices

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Secretary of State for Health agrees to look into the employment practices of ISS following GMB union expressing concerns about the public health hazard at Kingston Hospital

  • The fact remains that ISS do not pay sick pay from day one and our members are on poverty level wages which means that they are forced to come into a hospital environment when they are sick, says GMB Southern 

    GMB MP for Croydon North Steve Reed and GMB Union held a meeting with the Minister for Health Matt Hancock yesterday (Tuesday 5 March) to expose the poor employment practices of ISS in Kingston Hospital which could be life threatening for patients. 
    The Minister was advised that ISS workers only accrue these ‘sick pay credits’ at a rate of one day per month ‘if’ they have not taken any sick leave in that month and that poverty level wages mean that they are forced to go into work when they are unwell themselves which is a cross infection risk. The minister stated that he was unaware that such practices go on in the health service but he is interested in looking into this matter further. 
    The employer ISS who hold the cleaning, catering, portering and cleaning contract for Kingston Hospital attempted to gag GMB Union by offering the union a recognition agreement on the condition that they stopped campaigning for the London Living Wage and sick pay for members. This issue was raised in parliament by MP Steve Reed as an infringement on the democratic right of GMB members to raise issues with MPs. 
    GMB Union have been campaigning for ISS workers at Kingston Hospital to get the London Living Wage and sick pay from day one. There have been two well attended demonstrations and a 150 strong march around Kingston in support of GMB members’ demands. [See notes to editors for previous GMB press releases] 

    Helen O’Connor, GMB Regional Organiser said: 

    "We welcome the fact that the Minister for Health is taking this issue seriously and we look forward to his intervention to deal with what amounts to a serious public health hazard in Kingston Hospital. 

    "ISS are trying to discredit the legitimate concerns of GMB Union members by writing letters to various MPs accusing the union of ‘communicating inaccurate information’. The fact remains that ISS do not pay sick pay from day one and our members are on poverty level wages which means that they are forced to come into a hospital environment when they are sick. 

    "ISS claim their sick pay scheme ‘compares favourably’ with their competitors. If it is indeed true that the inadequate ISS sick scheme is one of the best amongst the private contractors this raises serious concerns that patients in other hospitals up and down this country are also at high risk of cross infection. 
    "When cleaning, portering and catering were provided within the NHS, hospitals were safe places where patients could go to recover from ill health but it’s now coming to light that this may no longer be the case with the rise of outsourcing. 
    "It is clear to GMB members that their fight for decent terms and conditions is central to stopping standards slipping in the NHS. GMB members will keep fighting and we will be continuing our #kingstonhospcampaign with a further protest at the end of March." 

    Contact: Helen O’Connor 07506 711574 or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114762

  • Notes to Editors

    1] GMB members to picket outside ISS offices (12 February)
    2] GMB welcome meeting between Steve Reed MP and Secretary of State for Health on ISS crisis (7 February)
    3] GMB calls for urgent action from the health secretary after ISS denies sick pay to stroke victim (5 February)
    4] GMB to step up Kingston Hospital campaign following successful march (30 January)
    5] GMB ISS members to ‘March for their Rights’ at Kingston Hospital
    6] GMB members boycott ISS Christmas lunch
    7] GMB protest at Kingston Hospital to go ahead on Thursday 20 December (19 December)
    8] "GMB to hold further protest outside Kingston Hospital" (7 December)