Strike averted at Great Ormond Street Hospital agrees to new staff contracts

Published: 14-Mar-2022

Hundreds of cleaners given full NHS contracts amid threat of legal action as security guards continue their fight

Hundreds of cleaners at Great Ormond Street Hospital, who had been due to begin strike action this week, will now be given full NHS contracts from 1 April.

Following the hospital’s last-minute concession, a two-day strike organised by trade union, United Voices of the World, has been averted and cleaners will no longer be taking action alongside striking security guards.

Security workers at the hospital, who are currently taking six weeks of strike action, are now the only workers on site who are outsourced and not on full NHS contracts.

Before the announcement, the hospital failed to afford the cleaners the full range of Agenda for Change (Afc) Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) NHS employees are entitled to and that other GOSH staff receive.

The hospital had been giving the cleaners improved conditions in dribs and drabs, but key terms, such as overtime and unsociable working hours pay, remained unaligned with the rest of their colleagues.

And, for the low-paid workers, who regularly work overnight, evening, and weekend shifts, the lack of enhanced pay meant thousands of pounds less per year compared to other staff.

The hospital threatened the cleaner’s union UVW with yet another injunction when served with the notice of the upcoming strike.

But, in a last-minute turnaround, following frantic meetings to avoid hundreds of cleaners walking out of their jobs, the hospital agreed to speed up the promised harmonisation of the T&Cs and the threat of injunction dissolved.

A group of a GOSH cleaners and UVW members are also currently suing the hospital for alleged indirect race discrimination during the years they were outsourced on inferior contracts.

This follows the unprecedented and ground-breaking legal victory of UVW and its Royal Parks attendant members against racist outsourcing last December.

This news marks yet another massive UVW win at GOSH, which has come about because our members rightly threatened to strike if GOSH delayed treating them as equals any longer

An Employment Tribunal ruled the inferior pay of the outsourced predominantly black, brown, and migrant group of workers was the result of indirect race discrimination.

In its quest against outsourcing, UVW is launching a series of legal challenges which aim to progressively bring down the discriminatory two-tiered system putting black, brown and migrant workers at a disadvantage.

Next week, another landmark ruling is expected as security guards at St George's, University of London, challenge what they claim is racist outsourcing in a hearing at the London (South) Employment Tribunal.

The GOSH security guards have also started legal proceedings against the hospital.

Memuna Kabia, cleaner for GOSH and a UVW member, said: “We are all so happy.

“Our lives are going to change so much because now we know we are fully GOSH employees and it’s permanent.

“It means a lot to us and I know our colleagues, the outsourced security guards who are on strike, need to keep fighting because it will happen for them too.

“They have to keep going and we are going to support them in whichever way we can so they can overcome this injustice.”

Petros Elia, general secretary for the UVW, added: “This news marks yet another massive UVW win at GOSH, which has come about because our members rightly threatened to strike if GOSH delayed treating them as equals any longer.

“We expect them now to do the right thing in respect of their security guards who have been on strike for weeks now and still only get Statutory Sick Pay.”

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