GMB hosts protests against ISS in wage and sick pay dispute

Hospital cleaner

Trade union GMB and its members are participating in a series of protests today (Thursday 11 April 2019) against support service organisation ISS in a dispute over wages and sick pay.

The protests will be occurring across three sites in South London: from 9.00am at the Princess Royal Hospital in Orpington and from 12.00pm at Kingston Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Greenwich.

ISS operates the cleaning, catering, porter and security contracts at NHS hospitals.

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GMB is seeking amendments to the organisation’s sick pay scheme so that it is paid from day one; this is to align with the provision offered to other NHS staff. Furthermore, the trade union wants ISS to pay its employees the voluntary London living wage, which currently stands at £10.55 an hour.

GMB and its members are also protesting against the organisation’s pay harmonisation programme, Project Greenfield. GMB states that this as a result of this employees will not receive their pay for up to three weeks from the end of April. This will result in an extended pay arrears period. Project Greenfield will not impact higher-paid, salaried employees, according to the union.

GMB members are requesting that the trade union establish food banks to help during this time.

Today’s protests form part of GMB’s ongoing campaign at Kingston Hospital, centred around improving the sick pay scheme. Matt Hancock, minister for health, met with GMB in March 2019 to discuss this.

Helen O’Connor, regional organiser at GMB, said: “ISS is an exploitative contractor in the health service and our members are angry at being treated like second class NHS workers. ISS has no regard for the wellbeing of its workforce and it is beyond belief that low paid workers can be expected to pay back loans in excess of £300 a month of their own wages so that a multi-million-pound global [organisation] like ISS can change [its] pay cycles.

“GMB met with ISS earlier in the week and advised them to advance wages to their hourly paid workers in order to change the pay cycle, but ISS are hell bent on offering unaffordable loans to workers who are already up to their eyes in debt due to low pay.”

A spokesperson at ISS added: “We are aware of the protests being carried out by the GMB union today. We want to make it clear that ISS will not withhold any money that is payable to any employee.

“ISS will soon begin a programme to upgrade our payroll system and processes. This is a necessity as from December, our current payroll will no longer be supported. In November we will therefore introduce a new, enhanced, payroll system. We strongly believe this will benefit our employees as it will give more clarity on what an employee will be paid, and when, as there will be more time to check and process pay.

“Our ethos is to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all employees; based on the ISS values and leadership principles, looking after both the physical and mental wellbeing of every ISS employee.

“[While] we are aware that the employees will be embarking upon change, we are providing a full range of support to ease their concerns and any impacts of the change, and we continue to provide opportunities for employees to discuss any issues with us. Our open approach has proven to help minimise any discomfort the employees may feel because of the necessary change and our local management teams are working very hard to communicate the right messages to everyone.”