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Outsourced Cleaners Demonstrate Outside US Private Healthcare Giant Over Poverty Pay and Sick Pay

Wed, Jun 15, 2022, 8:32 AM
  • Outsourced cleaners working for HCA private hospitals set to protest outside HCA headquarters on Thursday at 3pm over poverty pay and lack of proper sick pay.
  • Amidst the cost of living crisis, workers are paid well below the London living wage while temporary agency workers brought in to tackle understaffing are paid much higher wage.
  • Weeks after the Sue Gray report revealed mistreatment of cleaners in central government, Thursday’s protest is co-organised by the IWGB union and Migrants Organise, as part of a week of action against the Hostile Environment.
  • HCA is the largest private healthcare provider in the US. It took £190 million of NHS money during the pandemic for covid contracts on top of £3 million in furlough money.

Wednesday 15 June: Tomorrow at 3PM, cleaners from the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) joined by Migrants Organise will protest outside private Healthcare giant HCA’s headquarters over poverty pay, lack of proper sick pay, and overwork. Amidst the cost of living crisis, Thursday’s protest comes only weeks after the Sue Gray report revealed mistreatment of cleaners in central government.

Outsourced cleaners working in London HCA hospitals launched a campaign in February over poverty pay and poor working conditions, whistleblowing a slew of shocking covid violations and harassment from management. Cleaners are paid well below the London living wage (£9.69/hr), while temporary agency workers brought in to deal with severe understaffing are paid higher wages.

Despite many contracting covid-19, cleaners lack proper sick pay and many cannot afford to take time off sick. Cleaners are also overworked, and many face disciplinary action from management for raising concerns and questioning poor management.

HCA reported $51 billion revenue in 2020, and took £190 million of NHS money during the pandemic. Subcontractor Compass Group was responsible for last year’s free school meals scandal and is renowned for using fire and rehire tactics.

Thursday’s protest is part of the ‘Solidarity Knows No Borders’ week of action that includes 60+ migrant groups and organisations participating in actions across the country. Outsourced cleaners are demanding £12.50 and full sick pay.

Marino, cleaner at London Bridge Hospital, says: “I don’t feel respected at London Bridge Hospital. Despite working hard doing dangerous work during the pandemic, I was harassed by management, bullied into working seven days a week, and disciplined for asking about potential covid risks in my workplace. I was forced to clear up human waste and blood in a hospital at a time before we got the necessary vaccinations, and no one cared. It staggers me that HCA treats me like a second class citizen compared to the agency workers they bring in on higher pay. I am told by management that my job is vital time and time again, so why can’t they treat me with dignity and pay me enough to support my family?”

Henry Chango Lopez, General Secretary (IWGB) says: “Weeks after the Sue Gray report shone a spotlight on the mistreatment of cleaners across the country, we are seeing yet another case of cleaners having to fight for fair treatment and respect. It is totally unacceptable that a multi-billion dollar private healthcare provider is overworking its long-term staff on pay well below the London living wage, while bringing in temporary agency workers at much higher pay to plug the gaps. This majority-migrant workforce worked hard all through the pandemic in dangerous working conditions but are denied proper sick pay and cannot afford to take time off when they get ill. With the cost of living skyrocketing, and inflation approaching 11% for low-paid households, these workers urgently need pay that enables them to support themselves and their families.”

Zrinka Bralo, CEO of Migrants Organise says: “For a brief moment during the pandemic we called our migrant workers, including cleaners, essential workers. That is what they are and continue to be. Not just for the economy, but for our entire society. Their work needs to be recognised, respected and paid properly. Being paid the London Living Wage at the time of a harsh economic crisis is the bare minimum. We stand in solidarity with all migrants seeking justice and dignity. Profiting from the exploitation of essential workers is unexceptable and we applaud the IWGB members for taking action”

Interviews with workers are available upon request, with interpretation.

For more information, please contact:
James Vail, Head of Communications
press@iwgb.co.uk

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