Socialist Worker

Outsourced workers fight to win sick pay at Kingston Hospital

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2640

Anger at outsourcing bosses

Anger at outsourcing bosses (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Hundreds of outsourced health workers in south west London are demanding that multinational ISS gives them sick pay.

Around 120 GMB union members joined a protest outside Kingston Hospital last Saturday. They came out during their lunch break—despite some managers standing on the hospital steps.

The low-paid, predominantly migrant workforce is made up of cleaners, domestics, porters and other support staff.

John, a GMB member, said workers feel ripped off by bosses at ISS. “We give good value for money to them—and they just take the profit,” he told Socialist Worker.

“We end up sick a lot of the time because we work in an infectious environment, but we don’t get any sick pay.”

John added, “One of my colleagues got sick from measles at the hospital. They didn’t pay him for one week.”

Daniel, another GMB member and domestic, told Socialist Worker, “One worker had to have a knee operation after an injury.

“The doctor told them to take three months off, but management said they would lose their job if they didn’t come in.

“So they did—and messed up their knee.”

General 

Fed up and fighting back - the health workers defying multinational Serco
Fed up and fighting back - the health workers defying multinational Serco
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The specific dispute over sick pay is part of a general anger towards bosses. Daniel said, “All they care about is getting the jobs done, they don’t care about people’s lives because we are considered ‘lower’ than them.

“Their attitude is, ‘You’re sick? Not my problem.”

Workers are determined to win their fight for sick pay and respect at work.

The workers and their supporters marched around the hospital through Kingston in a show of strength.

At the end of the march GMB general secretary Tim Roach pledged that the union “will support every one of you workers until you win”.

If ISS bosses don’t back down under the mounting pressure, organising strikes could force them to cough up.

Workers’ names in this article have been changed.

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