Homerton University Hospital trust condemns ‘NHS heroes’ to five years of poverty pay, says UNISON

Friday 29 May 2020
For immediate release 

Homerton University Hospital trust condemns ‘NHS heroes’ to five years of poverty pay, says UNISON 

Low-paid staff at Homerton University Hospital – employed by private company ISS – face five years of poverty wages after the trust controversially extended the firm’s contract, says UNISON. 

The workers –  including cleaners, porters, security and catering staff – are paid less than NHS employees doing similar jobs on the front line. They also receive fewer days’ leave and less generous sick pay entitlement despite risking their health in the fight against Covid-19, says UNISON.

The union says this has left hundreds of workers feeling betrayed by the trust, which has shut them out of contract extension talks. This is despite them working longer hours in high-stress situations to keep the hospital running.

Around half of the affected workers only receive statutory sick pay of £95.85 a week to live on when ill. In April this year, ISS began paying its staff the London Living Wage – a full three years after first committing to make the payment. To add insult to injury the company is refusing to backdate the award, says UNISON. 

UNISON Greater London regional organiser Carol Shorter said“These workers are on the front line in the war against Covid-19 – cleaning Covid wards, transporting patients and keeping the hospital secure. They have stepped up during unprecedented times, just like their NHS colleagues, yet are risking their lives for poverty pay.

“If they are truly ‘health heroes’, they deserve the same pay and terms and conditions as their NHS colleagues. We’re calling on the trust to reconsider the contract extension, finally bring the services back in-house and show these workers the respect they deserve.”

Notes to editors:

  • ISS profits source https://www.statista.com/statistics/330190/income-of-iss-world-worldwide/
  • The lowest rate of basic pay on the contract is £8.72 per hour.
  • UNISON and the GMB are both lobbying for the trust to scrap the ISS contract and directly employ staff

  • UNISON is the UK’s largest union, and largest healthcare union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
  • Cleaner, UNISON member: “We’ve been working ourselves to the bone during the pandemic, and Homerton Trust has rewarded us by keeping us on terrible pay for another five years. Morale is already low and I’m worried this will push people over the edge. People are scared to speak up, and feel stabbed in the back. Enough with the clapping – we just want fair pay for a hard day’s work.”

Media contact:
Emma Davey M: 07432 733187  Ee.davey@unison.co.uk