Bring us back in-house now! – demand St George’s Hospital strikers

St George’s Hospital GMB branch secretary FRANCIS DWUM addressing his members on the picket line yesterday morning

St George’s Hospital workers employed by the public services privateer Mitie are escalating their action with a week-long strike commencing on Monday 20th June.

On their third day of three days of strike action yesterday, they held a powerful picket and rally.

The 600 domestics, hostesses and cleaners employed by the privateer at the hospital in Tooting, south west London, are fighting to be taken back in-house and for proper pay rates, sick pay and equal contracts for all workers.

Catherine Mwanba, who works as a hostess at St George’s, told News Line: ‘Our money is too low, we don’t get paid the London Living Wage, we want to be taken back in-house and work directly for the NHS.

‘Mitie needs to have their contract terminated. When we are suffering the patients are suffering too. We get paid short every month. We have to book holidays online then you don’t get confirmation of your holiday period and it creates problems that shouldn’t exist.’

Francis Dwum, GMB Branch Secretary, said: ‘They are changing the pay cycle to the detriment of the workers. We were working one week in hand and now we have to work two.

‘People are also on two different contracts. The older contract was part of Agenda for Change. The new contract is called Multi Ts & Cs. It came in in 2016 and the union is challenging this new contract. We represent lots of grades. There are deep cleaners, rapid response, then hostesses, domestics and others.’

Chantel Esho, a hostess, said: ‘Some people reported that they were told by managers that they would lose their overtime if they went on strike. Others were told they would lose their job completely.

‘One of the directors told me he was surprised I was taking part in the strike and that it won’t change anything. The same director was seen standing outside the Atkinson Morley Wing looking very stressed.

‘They also said they would pay us double if we came in on strike days and buy us pizza.’

Andrea Gilbert, of the Unite Housing workers branch, who was there to support the strike, said: ‘We want to end outsourcing and get Mitie out of Wandsworth completely.

‘Cleaners here are highly trained to deal with MRSA and HIV. Now managers are running round in cleaning shirts trying to do their jobs. All workers should be on NHS contracts.’

Elizabeth Robaczwska, a hostess, said: ‘I didn’t get paid for 11 weeks and still haven’t been paid. I have been told when I get it it will be taxed double because it looks like I am paid more than I am. They delay it and then they punish us for the delay.’

Kiera Adegbite, NHS worker, who was spoken to by the strikers, said: ‘I had no idea this was going on. When I heard it I felt I couldn’t look Mitie staff in the face. I’m going to write to the chief executive. The workers should all be brought back in-house and employed by the National Health Service.’