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Private firm hospital workers walk out over Living Wage pay row

Porters, cleaners and support staff at St Mary’s Hospital join demonstration

07 May, 2019 — By Tom Foot

Protesters outside Hammersmith Hospital

HUNDREDS of hospital porters, cleaners and support staff employed by a private firm walked out of work in a row over pay.

Sodexo staff at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington joined the demonstration in what union chiefs say was a precursor to formal strike action.

The GMB is calling for the London Living Wage to be paid to outsourced staff.

GMB regional organiser Michael Dooley said: “We have met Sodexo bosses and Sodexo have said that they will not pay an increase.

“We have arranged to speak with them again but in the meantime we will continue our protests. We have not ruled out strike action, but many of our members do not want to disrupt the patients’ routine, so they will protest for now to show the hospital trust, the public and their employer that they are not sitting back and accepting poverty pay when other [staff] get the London Living Wage.

“The staff in the NHS should be properly rewarded for their labour; this includes the staff who have been contracted out [and] who undertake the work that keeps the hospital running and patients comfortable and safe.”

Protests took place outside Hammersmith Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital last Tuesday.

The hospitals are run by Imperial College NHS Health Trust.

Sodexo is a French food services and facilities management company founded in Paris.

It has grown to become one of the world’s largest multinational corporations with contracts in 80 countries.

Sodexo said that while more funding had been made available for NHS staff, it was not the case for private companies with contracts in the NHS.

A Sodexo statement said: “As part of the 2018 Agenda for Change pay deal, the Department of Health agreed to centrally fund new pay rates for NHS employees in England. However, this funding has not been extended to include those employed by private contractors, such as Sodexo.

“We support the trade union’s position of lobbying the government for central funding and, if successful, we guarantee to pass that funding on to our employees.”

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