(Photo Credits: Diya)
Cleaning and catering staff at Maudsley Hospital staged a demonstration over rejected pay claims at its entrance gate last Thursday.
The crowd were protesting a higher pay claim that is being ignored by their employers – the global facilities management behemoth ISS. The company outsources staff from across South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLAM).
Operating in over 30 countries, ISS reported a net profit of £71.6 million last year globally. One protestor said: “We’re talking about a company that is the fourth biggest in the world. How do you think they make so much profit? It’s by not paying anybody.”
The GMB spearheaded the protest as a trade union representing these workers, and many more across the UK.
The demonstrators held that the two per cent pay rise worked out as a ‘pay cut’ in the cost-of-living crisis. Calling for a basic rate of £13.26 per hour, the protestors also asked for sick pay entitlement.
Ironically, the staff don’t get paid for sick leaves after three days despite working in a hospital. The number of these paid leaves are also capped at two weeks in a year as payments don’t get sanctioned if the leaves go above this limit.
A protesting staff talked about the risks they faced working during the pandemic: “We cleaned walls full of COVID for a whole year to get nothing in the end. While others sat at home and got paid, we were just given a £15 Amazon voucher.”
Working conditions are another key issue that was highlighted by the demonstrators. According to one of the worker present at the demonstration, a large number of workers left their jobs recently due to low pay. As a result, the existing workers had to cover up their shifts.
A cleaning staff worker in Maudsley Hospital felt that things were ‘going back to Victorian times’. He added: “Women here have broken knees and yet they make them walk up and down the streets everyday.”
Calling ISS ‘the main culprit’, the protestors held that working conditions were much better when their contracts were under another employer a few years back.
An ISS spokesperson commented on the matter: “ISS is in a constructive dialogue with the GMB union about pay at South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and we are working towards a resolution.”