BY JAMES TWOMEY
Hospital workers took part in a day of action last Thursday to protest against changes to their pay structure which will see some of them without pay for weeks.
Staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, and the Princess Royal Hospital in Bromley who are employees for global facilities corporation ISS, staged protests outside their hospitals – alongside their union, GMB, in anger at the change in pay structures.
The workers say they were given little warning over the changes to allow them to adjust their financial situations.
ISS has offered the workers loans to make up for the shortfall in pay, but it has been described as “degrading” and “not on”.
Kim, a housekeeping worker at Princess Royal hospital and a GMB union member who did not want her full name to be used, said: “Missing a fortnight’s pay is a lot of money. I have a lot of bills, a seven-year-old daughter and I’m going to be left in a ditch. I don’t know what to do.
“We’re not feeling happy at all. We’re being asked to work for no money like we’re slaves. I have spoken to my mum and she will try to help me out as best as she can. “I said to my manager ‘you have not given us enough warning’.
They only told us last month this was going to happen. They should have at least given us six months warning. “This is affecting all of us across the board – catering, security, everyone who is part of ISS. Whatever you do, it affects us all.”
Helen O’Connor, GMB regional officer, said: “ISS can rest assured that GMB will leave no stone unturned to organise our members to fight back. This co-ordinated day of action across the NHS trusts is just the beginning.
“These workers who are already living hand-to-mouth and who are forced to go into work when they are ill due to the wholly inadequate ISS ‘sick pay’ scheme, are now suffering further from the appalling management methods of the ISS tops.
“Workers are further enraged by the company offering them ‘bridging loans’ of their own wages that will then need to be ‘paid back’ to the company over the remainder of the year.
ISS will be enjoying interest on the workers’ wages, while the workforce have serious concerns how they will survive the shortfall in wages.
“It is not good for hospitals or patients to have an ill-treated, angry and demoralised workforce.”
An ISS spokeswoman said: “The new fortnightly pay cycle will be administered by working 11 days in arrears. Our current pay cycles pay between five and nine days in arrears.
We are aware therefore that the first month of change will result in our people waiting longer for their pay than they currently do, and we appreciate the concern employees may have.
We are therefore offering all impacted employees interest-free loans to help smooth the wait and to ensure that individuals have the financial support they need.”
GMB have said they plan to take action again on April 26.