Solidarity needed: Another 7 days of strikes at Ealing hospital

3 April 2014


7 Days Compass Strike At Ealing HospitalEaling GMB Medirest Strike 4

From the GMB: Further Seven Days Of Strike Action From 4th April By 150 Members Employed By Compass At Ealing Hospital Over Two Tier Workforce

During last strike staff asked by Compass to do cleaning and to serve food breaching standards for cross contamination which is an absolute disgrace and this must not happen during next strike days says GMB.

There will be a further seven days of strike action between Friday 4th April 2014 and Friday 11th April 2014 in a dispute over pay and conditions for 150 GMB members employed by Compass (Medirest) at Ealing NHS Hospital Trust in London.

Strike action will commence at 7.00am on Friday 4th April 2014 and end at 7.00am on Friday 11th April 2014. The workers are employed as domestic, catering, porters and help desk workers.

These GMB members want a pay rise towards a London living wage of £8.80 per hour. They are currently paid the national minimum wage of £6.31 per hour. Their pay rate is 44% below the lowest comparable NHS rate in London of £9.09 per hour. They are also seeking an additional two days of annual leave and sick pay for 1 week full pay and 3 weeks half pay. There is now no sick pay.

Worker taken on by Compass after the work was outsourced are offered lower terms and conditions than comparable NHS staff or those transferred under TUPE to this contract. This has led to a two tier workforce as Compass does not pay NHS pay rates or conditions. Comparable NHS rates range from £7.33 to £8.34 per hour plus London Weighting of £1.76 per hour.

There has already been eleven days of strike action in this dispute. There were 7 days from Friday 14th March to Friday 21st March 2014.This followed four days of strike action on 12th, 13th,19th and 20th February 2013, February. Over 98% voted in an official ballot to take strike action.

GMB is moving towards a ballot for strike action in a second dispute with Compass in the public sector. GMB members employed by Compass as chefs in schools across East Sussex face a 9% cut in pay with potential loss of £720 per year on a salary of less than £8,000.

Compass is the world’s biggest catering firm. It employs more than 500,000 people in over 50 countries. It had turnover of £17.5billion and profits of £720m. Compass Group UK & Ireland has over 60,000 employees and works in over 10,000 client sites with over £1.9bn turnover.

Stella George-Duesbury, Regional Organiser, said “Members on £6.31 are 44% below the lowest comparable NHS rate in London of £9.09 per hour. Anger is growing with how Compass has dealt with the eleven days of strike action so far.

Many of the workers who have been asked by Compass to cover striking members have personally visited us on strike days advising of the following:

  • No training has been provided
  • Some have never worked in a hospital previously. One person said he works for a contractor who provides service to Compass Group, however, this service is in relation to working in a pub and he had no previous experience of working in a hospital environment.
  • Some staff told us that they were asked by Compass to do cleaning and to serve food to patients. This breaches standards for cross contamination. This is an absolute disgrace. Neither Compass or NHS must allow this to happen during the next strike days.

GMB has confirmed, yet again, that we are prepared to sit down and negotiate with Compass on the basis that there must be a significant improvement to the offer.

As yet, we have not had any response from the employer in regards to another meeting.”

Kamaljeet Jandu, GMB National Officer for Equalities, said “I visited the strikers on 20th March with Dr Onkar Sahota, Labour London Assembly Member, Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council, Virendra Sharma MP and Steve Pound MP. They all gave their assurance that they will support these striking GMB members and will call on Compass to end the two tier workforce.

GMB has written to the employer and copied in numerous MP’s including Andy Burnham in relation to health and safety breaches during the strikes.

No one asked Compass to get involved in our schools and hospitals. The private sector can compete on quality and performance but not on pay and conditions as Compass is doing at the expense mainly single mums in Sussex schools and mainly ethnic minority women in Ealing Hospital.

What Compass is doing is unacceptable. Parliament needs to establish why Compass is flouting the rules and why the NHS and the Education Authority is not facing up to their responsibilities to enforce the rules. I will be seeking meetings get these issues raised.

Compass needs obey the rules. To do this they have to come back to the negotiating table.”

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