15.09.2021 / Press releases /

Black/Brown migrant workers are balloting for strike action to demand parity with fellow NHS staff

  • Last year, Great Ormond Street Hospital Workers won their fight to end outsourcing, but their in-house contracts still deny them the same rights as NHS staff.
  • Those are annual leave, maternity/paternity and redundancy.
  • UVW, the trade union dedicated to representing Black, Brown and migrant workers have denounced this ‘two tier system’ which we believe amounts to racial discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

The cleaners who won an in-housing agreement at Great Ormond Street Hospital after launching a hard fought campaign against outsourcing to private contractors have vowed to ballot for strike action after accusing GOSH of failing to keep their promises.

United Voices of the World union representing the cleaners said numerous attempts to talk to GOSH had been stonewalled. “They have refused to meet or engage in talks with UVW, the union of choice for these workers, have made no attempt to negotiate despite being warned on numerous occasions”. This week, they announced they would hold ballots this month over possible strike action.

UVW said: “It is our understanding that it is GOSH’s intention to deny the cleaners full Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts and only afford them the NHS terms and conditions in respect of NHS flat rate pay and pensions.” They added: ”It therefore appears they are more determined to deny the cleaners equality or a voice at the table than avoid disruption to patient services. How disappointing.”  

United Voices of the World union is dedicated to representing low-paid, precarious, and migrant workers. They accuse GOSH of failing to afford newly in-housed cleaners the same terms and conditions when it comes to annual leave, maternity/paternity and redundancy.

Alpha Anne has been working at Great Ormond Street hospital for 7 years. “All we are asking for is equality with the rest of the NHS staff. We are tired of being treated like second class workers,” he said. “Taxpayers money should go towards the people that make the hospital run, not the shareholders and boards of private companies,” he adds. Many of his colleagues agree, saying the hospital could not be run without them.

The ballot to strike comes just months after the cleaners won an in-housing agreement that was widely lauded as an important victory against precarious work contracts. After months of campaigning, in December 2020, domestic workers were made official NHS staff marking an end to outsourcing at the hospital and to the £10 million-per-year contract with multinational contractor, OCS.

For UVW, the hospital’s reluctance to give workers full rights is tied into issues of structural racism they hoped might have been resolved when they were brought in-house.

Last year, workers argued that under the 2010 Equality Act their precarious contracts constituted racial discrimination – almost all workers employed by private companies are from BAME backgrounds.

Workers say the two-tier system persists and that they are organising to take to the picket line to demand parity with other NHS employees.


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