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Outsourcing giant picketed over treatment of hospital cleaners

TRADE unionists have besieged the London Docklands offices of outsourcing giant ISS as part of their ongoing campaign for better pay and conditions at a west London hospital.

GMB members inflated a giant rat outside the ISS Facility Services building in Canary Wharf at the height of the morning rush hour today.

The multinational has an NHS contract to provide cleaners, porters, caterers and security staff at Kingston Hospital.

Activists say the firm is creating a health hazard by forcing its workers to clean the hospital even when they are unwell, as they cannot afford to take a sick day.

GMB regional organiser Helen O’Connor said: “One worker who suffered a stroke and was off sick for more than three months did not receive a penny in sick pay from ISS.”

She told the Morning Star: “Our members at Kingston Hospital are living hand to mouth, trying to feed their kids.

“It’s a toxic situation and their managers are bullying them.”

Ms O’Connor said that one worker was “assaulted” by a manager shortly before Christmas and has taken up a grievance procedure over the incident.

The union is calling for the workers to receive the London living wage — £10.55 per hour — and sick pay.

Ms O’Connor described the campaign as a “long-running” dispute which has seen a growth in GMB members.

Earlier this month more than 100 people attended a march for hospital workers’ rights outside the hospital, building on a wave of protests in 2018.

It is believed that outsourced workers at Kingston are now 60 per cent worse off in terms of pay and conditions than when their jobs were in house. Meanwhile ISS is accused of making vast profits. The company’s accounts show it paid out more than £100 million in dividends to its shareholders in 2017.

An ISS spokesperson told the Star: “We are aware of the protest staged by the GMB in London this morning regarding concerns about working conditions of some ISS employees at one of our hospital contracts.

“We take employee welfare very seriously and continue to work in a positive relationship with Unison, the officially recognised union at that hospital.”

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