Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) is today finalising the process of harmonising the formerly outsourced cleaners terms and conditions with NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts. While the United Voices of the World union (UVW) welcomes these steps, they are too little too late for our members at the hospital who have faced years of discrimination.
In early March there will be a nine day court hearing where GOSH faces claims of institutional racism, for the years of structural inequality the predominantly black, brown and migrant cleaners at the hospital have faced. This was first when the cleaners were outsourced on mainly the legal minimum terms and conditions, but continued after they were bought in-house following a successful campaign by UVW in 2020.
UVW believes there were unreasonable and unnecessary delays to bringing the cleaners to full NHS AfC rates. If the court agrees with us, the 80 members participating in the legal action could be awarded between £80,000 and £190,000 each. Years of structural racism could cost the children’s hospital over £12 million if the court recognises the inequality our members faced.
One of the claimants said: “The only way to fight discrimination at work is to get together and join a union. A union, like UVW, that will fight with you shoulder to shoulder. The cleaners at GOSH know this now. We stood firm and we fought to be brought back in house and we won. Now we will use the courts to right an injustice”
In November 2021 UVW won a landmark case against the Royal Parks, striking a blow against outsourcing and structural racism. Royal Parks decision to not pay the almost exclusively Black and brown outsourced cleaners the London Living Wage (LLW) from 2014-2019, was found to amount to indirect race discrimination. This decision is being appealed by the Royal Parks and UVW will be defending it in the coming months.
Petros Elia, General Secretary of UVW: “UVW is always challenging structural racism in multiple ways, through collective, legal and direct action. A win here, which will be the first against an NHS Trust, will effectively bring about an end to outsourcing facilities workers in the NHS which is one of UVW’s core goals. UVW is a daring union for low-paid, migrant and precarious workers and we exist to build workers’ power and solidarity in workplaces and communities. Join us”
16.01.2024 / HARRODS