Hospital key workers will be left scrimping to survive after their pay date was put back – and all they were offered by their bosses to cover the shortfall was loans.
Cleaners and porters at St George’s Hospital – employed by contractor Mitie – finally got a £40 Christmas bonus on Tuesday, seven weeks after their NHS colleagues.
But they will protest from 10am on Friday, February 18, after promises to introduce bank holiday lieu days, contractual rights and an occupational sick pay scheme were also dropped, their union the GMB said.
Mitie is changing their pay cycles, meaning they will miss two pay dates in April as they move from weekly or two-weekly pay to monthly pay. They will be forced to wait until 11th May for their wages, so managers have offered bridging loans to cover the changes.
The GMB halted any plan for escalating staff disputes during lockdown but now feels staff have had enough.
Helen O’Connor, GMB Regional Organiser, said: “GMB members are sick and tired of having their concerns dismissed or ignored.
“They complain of numerous injustices, including being denied a day in lieu of bank holiday working and many are being denied contractual rights and an occupational sick pay scheme.
“The atmosphere is volatile and our members have had enough of being given the run around by an employer who breaks its promises.
“Our members are calling on GMB to embark on a programme of escalating action.
“We urge Mitie to adhere to our members’ contractual rights and deliver on promises made, otherwise GMB will have no choice but to ballot our members for industrial action.
“Mitie already changed the pay cycle at this site three years ago and workers are angry they are messing around with their pay yet again. They know this will create even more chaos and hardship for themselves and their families.
“These are low-paid workers, often living hand to mouth, kept the hospital running during the pandemic.
“Three of them even lost their lives to covid while most people were locked down at home.
“GMB calls on Mitie to do the right thing and stop messing about with these workers’ pay.
“We also ask St Georges NHS to intervene to resolve this crisis – they have a responsibility for the well-being of any workers based on their properties, whether employed by them or by private companies.”
A Mitie spokeswoman said: “Our people are what make our business exceptional and we are proud to offer industry-leading benefits. We are implementing a change to pay periods on this contract so that our colleagues can move from four-weekly to monthly paydays. As part of this transition, we are providing a range of support and are working closely with GMB to understand their concerns and ensure the best interests of our colleagues.”
Mitie believes the new regime would enable staff to manage their finances better, as rent, mortgages, council tax, utility bills etc are usually paid monthly. It also denied refusing lieu or annual leave days.
A St George’s spokesperson said: “Mitie staff are hugely valued and are a key part of our team so we are pleased that this [the Christmas bonus] has been resolved.”
Two years ago cleaners at the hospital claimed their health was being put at risk every time they did a shift – three had already died during the coronavirus pandemic.Their department had been left severely stretched after 30 redundancies at St George’s in 2019, which led to a decline in hygiene standards – which ward medics had complained about.
Pictured: A protest by staff over being put in danger weeks after the start of lockdown, in 2020