‘Angry’ Lewisham hospital cleaners have a held a protest over plans to cut hundreds of hours from their contracts, which workers and their union say could put patients at an increased risk of Covid-19.
There is “increasing unrest” in the south east London hospital around the risk of cross-infection, say the GMB union, and the staff have been told they face a second hours and jobs cull in a year.
Cleaners are already struggling with “impossible workloads” and the company behind the cleaning contract are apparently advising ‘spot cleaning’ rather than thorough cleaning in some areas of the hospital.
Private contractor ISS hold the cleaning, portering and catering contract within Lewisham and Greenwich NHS and have reportedly revealed that they plan to cut 495 hours out of the cleaning contract.
The hospital staff hosted a socially distanced protest outside the Lewisham site on Monday, April 12, and have asked the local community to stand with them in support.
ISS took over the contract in February 2020, and the GMB point out that this is their second hours and jobs cull.
Back in February 2020, cleaners at the Covid-hit hospital went on strike over unpaid wages.
ISS ended up putting the missed pay down to an “administrative error”, with pay being backdated and paid in April after several “volatile” months.
Helen O’Connor, GMB Regional Organiser said that “from day one, ISS have been failing the staff and the patients in Lewisham hospital.”
“The patients have been moved over from having fresh food to cook-chill food, while workers are consistently not being paid for hours they have worked.”
“GMB members are angry because ISS are constantly making detrimental changes that are cutting the quality of the services in the hospital.
“Many of our members have been seriously unwell with coronavirus themselves and they are very concerned that cuts to cleaning during a pandemic will kill hospital patients who are already unwell and very vulnerable.”
“GMB members will not stand by and allow a private company raking in huge profits to put patients at risk.
“Our members will be protesting outside the hospital at 3pm on Monday 12th April and they are asking the local community to stand with them and fight to protect services in their hospital.”
A Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust spokesperson said: “We have been assured by ISS that there will be no changes to the cleanliness of our sites and all facilities will continue to be cleaned in line with high safety standards with performance monitored on a daily basis to ensure these standards are met.”
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