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OUTSOURCED cleaners at Luton & Dunstable Hospitals have won the same pay as their NHS colleagues after a months-long fight for justice, unions Unison and GMB announced today.
When a new cleaning, catering and housekeeping contract begins in November, the workers, many currently on the minimum wage, will get full NHS pay of at least £9.21 an hour, as well as any nationally agreed future rises.
The workers have also won improved annual leave and sick-pay entitlements.
Staff overwhelmingly backed the deal, which will come into effect when the service provider Engie’s contract ends in November, in consultative ballots over the last fortnight.
The trust is currently picking the next private firm to run its cleaning, catering and housekeeping contract, but all workers will be guaranteed NHS pay rates.
Unison regional organiser Shane Hall said: “This is brilliant news for some of the lowest-paid workers at Luton & Dunstable.
“After a hard-fought campaign, they’ll end up with much more money in their pockets.
“We spent weeks clapping our NHS staff while many L&D cleaners were doing an absolutely vital job in the hospital for minimum wage. This deal means they’ve got something to applaud themselves.”
But Mr Hall warned that this was not all that the unions had been fighting for.
He said: “Cleaners, caterers and housekeepers would feel far more valued and part of the NHS family if they were on full NHS contracts — but it’s a life-changing improvement for these vital workers.”
GMB London regional organiser Hilda Tavolara said: “This is the recognition our members deserve for the role they play for the patients day by day and during the pandemic, ensuring that the hospital is cleaned and patients are provided with meals.
“Following a year of collective action and hard campaigning, the trust finally listened to our members, and this settlement guarantees NHS pay rates for all staff transferring to any new contractor in November, including any increases going forward.
“More importantly, our members feel they are now recognised with the same dignity and respect as their NHS colleagues.”
Ms Tavolara called the decision a “huge step forward” for GMB members toward securing equal and fair treatment from their employer.
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