Homerton Hospital insists it did not “ban” protesters from its site earlier this week after a union expressed its “shock at the animosity” shown to cleaning staff demanding better terms on pay.
The GMB Union claims a group of protesters, including staff of outsourced company ISS, Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville and the Reverend Graham Hunter, were “blocked” from delivering a Christmas card signed by hundreds of NHS staff.
The company hit the headlines over the weekend after the Sunday Mirror reported that ISS staff are being forced to work while ill, with the GMB now calling for changes to conditions denying them sick pay for the first three days of illness, with full-time workers said to be making just £3.43 an hour.
The Homerton says it negotiates terms with ISS which balance “financial benefit” to the local NHS with a “high quality of service”.
Reverend Graham Hunter, Vicar of St John’s Hoxton and a leader for Citizens UK Hackney said: “I was really surprised to be refused entry to the Homerton Hospital – we were only there to deliver a Christmas card and a letter to the directors of the hospital asking that the outsourced domestic and ward staff be given fair employment conditions.
“Citizens UK Hackney stands with the ISS workers at the Homerton Hospital, and it was surprising for a Church of England Vicar and the Mayor of Hackney, Phil Glanville, to be turned away!”
It is understood that executive members of the Homerton were not at the site on Tuesday afternoon, with Mayor Glanville and the protesters presenting the Christmas card to facilities management, who are also employed through ISS.
A Homerton spokesperson said that a “large proportion” of ISS staff onsite used to be NHS workers, going on to claim that they would be on the same terms and conditions as if they were directly employed through the health service.
The hospital has outsourced cleaning services for 15 years, with the contract with ISS up for renewal later this year, though the Homerton has not confirmed or denied whether it will be looking at taking the services inhouse.
Homerton Hospital has confirmed that chief executive Tracey Fletcher will be writing to Mayor Glanville, who expressed his “disappointment” that he could not deliver the card directly to management, and has called for the organisation to join the council in moving towards insourcing its services.
Mayor Glanville said: “I am still determined to work with the Homerton Hospital to get a fair deal for facilities management staff.
“The Homerton is a fantastic community hospital that is helping our most vulnerable residents from across the borough.
“Surely facilities staff who keep the hospital clean and ensure the safety of patients, contribute to that excellence just as much as doctors and nurses?”
Tom Nettel, the Homerton’s director of Workforce and Organisational Development said: “Many of Homerton’s facilities services have now been managed by an approved contractor for over 15 years.
“ISS staff currently provide these high quality services which support our clinical staff in caring for our patients 24/7, 365 days a year.
“We see the ISS staff here as part of the Homerton family who are invaluable in supporting ward staff in maintaining high standards of cleanliness and in ensuring patients are receiving healthy options of food menus every day.
“Our security team are rightly renowned as leaders in the field of hospital safety and security – as well as taking on the sometimes difficult role of policing our free car parks for patients. And our porters and post-room staff are instrumental in the smooth running of the hospital.
“We are in ongoing dialogue with ISS and we will discuss staff terms and conditions as part of this.
“We will also liaise with all our recognised staff and union representatives about these issues and would welcome further discussions with our colleagues at Hackney Council.”
ISS was approached for comment, but had not responded by time of going to press.
EDIT: This article was updated at 17:49 on 12/06/2020. The original article had as its featured image a photograph of protests at the Homerton over the Christmas period. Having been alerted to the fact that an offensive antisemitic image is visible on a banner in the photograph, we have removed the image from this and all other stories. We would like to apologise unreservedly for republishing the imagery, and for any offence caused by its publication.