Nearly 300 porters, cleaners and switchboard staff employed by Rentokil Initial, based at Whipps Cross Hospital in East London, will be on strike again next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, in a dispute over equal pay and conditions.
Whipps Cross Hospital UNISON shop steward Len Hockey told News Line yesterday: ‘The union here at Whipps Cross is campaigning for the implementation of an equal pay agreement, which we secured in 2003.
‘This was due for delivery in April this year.
‘We are in dispute with Initial Hospital Services, who are part of Rentokil, over their failure to implement the agreement.
‘We’ve had five days of discontinuous strike action and will be holding three more days of strike action on the 30th, 31st August and 1st September.
‘The funding for the equal pay adjustment comes from the Whipps Cross Trust.
‘Initial are claiming they haven’t been paid the money from the Trust.
‘The Trust meanwhile is deliberately trying to misrepresent its involvement in the dispute and to absolve themselves of any responsibility for ending the two-tier workforce.
‘Our members are angry at the way they are being treated.
‘They say they are all doing the same job, but the employers are treating them in a very discriminatory way.
‘They are not receiving the same benefits as workers employed by the NHS who do exactly the same jobs.
‘They are getting less pay and less sick pay.’
Whipps Cross workers took strike action to secure the 2003 equal pay agreement.
Several other East London hospitals have implemented the 2003 deal to end the two-tier workforce, only Rentokil at Whipps Cross has failed to honour it.
The pay award is roughly equivalent to a £2 per hour raise, for staff who in some cases earn as little as £5.52 per hour, the agreement also includes increases in leave entitlement.
Whipps Cross workers are taking more strike action for the full award with pay backdated to April.
Rentokil has refused to negotiate with Unison.
Many workers who were not members of Unison have joined the action unofficially or joined since it started.
There is widespread support for the strike within NHS staff employed at the hospital, and most are only undertaking extra duties essential for patient care.