Cleaners, catering and housekeeping staff from the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) have won an end to exploitative outsourcing at the prestigious private London Bridge Hospital, following the launch of a campaign earlier this year. After whistleblowing on severe health concerns and holding multiple demonstrations outside of HCA offices, outsourced staff will now be brought in-house from 1 April 2023.
Marino, Outsourced Cleaner, says: “Despite risking our lives during the pandemic, we were treated like second-class citizens. We were forced to take on extra work and faced bad management from subcontractors who refused to listen to our safety concerns. Moving in-house is a big step forward in improving our working conditions and we expect HCA to give us the same terms and conditions as our colleagues. But with the rising cost of living, we are still struggling to support ourselves. We want to build a future for our families, so we will continue to organise and fight for the pay we deserve.”
Parent company HCA – the largest private healthcare provider in the world – has presided over a discriminatory two-tier system of employment, denying outsourced staff the same terms and conditions as staff directly employed by the hospital who enjoy far better pay and private health insurance. HCA currently contracts cleaning services at London Bridge Hospital to Compass Group, the firm responsible for last year’s free school meals scandal.
The majority-migrant workers, who worked all through the pandemic on sub-living wage pay and without proper sick pay, faced severe health and safety concerns including inadequate PPE provision and improper training. Meanwhile, HCA pocketed millions of pounds of furlough money on top of £150+ million funding from the NHS contracts.
Compass is responsible for chronic mismanagement, including ongoing and repeated payroll errors. After launching their campaign, workers saw pay increased from £9.69/hr to £10.50/hr, still below the London Living Wage. Workers continue to campaign and are now demanding £12.50/hr and full sick pay.
The IWGB union has an established history of ending outsourcing across the capital, having won an end to outsourcing at the University of London, Goldsmiths, and Southwark Council among other places.
Henry Chango Lopez, General Secretary (IWGB), says: “Despite working tirelessly through the pandemic, this majority-migrant workforce are treated as second class citizens. They are denied the same pay and conditions as directly employed colleagues, made to pay the price for the subcontractor’s cost-cutting and mismanagement. By coming together and campaigning for an end to this injustice, they have shown outsourced workers across the UK that workers have the power to bring an end to the scourge of outsourcing. We expect HCA to ensure that workers receive the same pay and conditions as directly employed workers.”