Health workers at St George’s medical school in south London are fighting to stop bosses putting profit before their lives.
UVW union members at St George’s University of London in Tooting are demanding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus crisis.
They are employed on zero hour contracts by outsourcing company Bidvest Noonan. The union said the fight “included a walk off” by some of the workers.
Cetin, a UVW member and security guard, said, “We are not only putting our wellbeing, but our families and colleagues’ wellbeing, at risk. “Noonan has failed us.”
Workers say that the outsourcer has failed to provide any safety guidance—and forced them to improvise their own while management work from home. Cyril, another security guard and UVW member, said, “I asked for all deliveries to be suspended because we deal with them and that didn’t happen.
“I also asked for all students’ visitors to be suspended during this time, but had no response.
“University management via email requested one of us to escort a student into another room without PPE to retrieve a plant.
“We keep getting these requests from them while they sit in the safety and comfort of their homes.”
Many students are self-isolating at the medical school. The UVW members were already in a long-running dispute over pay, terms and conditions before the coronavirus crisis.
They are demanding the same pay, terms and conditions as those staff directly employed by the university.
This includes six months sick pay, 28 days holiday a year and a better value pension scheme.
Noonan bosses made an offer at the end of March that included three weeks guaranteed sick pay. But the proposal included the loss of a paid lunch break—effectively making it a pay cut—and workers say bosses failed to negotiate.
“This is outrageous,” Cetin said. “They have had no dialogue with us. “They haven’t attempted to contact us, they’ve sprung the new contract on us.”