St George's Hospital Staff Hold 24-hour Strike

Cleaners and other workers employed by Mitie angry over pay cycle changes

An earlier protest outside St George's Hospital. Picture: Helen O'Connor

Cleaners and other staff at a St George’s Hospital have begun a 24-hour strike over changes to their pay cycle. The hospital in Tooting was told by GMB Union it faces “severe disruption” from three days of strike action starting Monday, with workers also set to walk out at the beginning of next week.

St George’s staff employed by outsourcing giant Mitie are said to be angry over changes which saw them paid in mid-May rather than at the end of April. The switch from four-weekly to monthly paydays meant they were paid on 11 May instead of 29 April.

GMB Union claims the move has caused “huge anger” among its members. The union wants staff contracts to be brought back in-house by St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Mitie claims staff have called the restructuring a “significant improvement,” and that it offered workers an interim payment while the changes were put in place. The company says the move will ensure workers are paid on the same date each month and receive a regular base salary each payday.

Workers have been protesting outside the hospital since 7am Monday morning (30 May). St George’s is asking the public to continue attending hospital when required, as usual, and not put off treatment. It says extra resources have been put in place to support teams during the strike action so the hospital can continue to provide services safely.

Helen O’Connor, regional organiser at GMB Union, said members were left with “no option but to strike” after no resolution was reached with Mitie. She said cleaning and catering services at the hospital are expected to be disrupted over the three days of strike action, which include a rally and a march.

Ms O’Connor added, “These workers have served the hospital throughout the pandemic at great risk to themselves and they care about their work and the patients.” Further strikes are planned for 6 and 7 June 6.

A spokesperson for Mitie said the company was “disappointed” to see the strike action go ahead. The spokesperson said, “Our people are what make our business exceptional and we are proud to offer industry leading benefits. We have implemented a change to pay periods on this contract so that our colleagues can move from four-weekly to monthly paydays – a change that colleagues throughout Mitie have said is a significant improvement.

“We have measures in place to ensure that we continue to deliver these vital services to the trust and maintain a clean and safe environment for patients and staff.”

A St George’s spokesperson said, “Patients should continue to use hospital services as they normally would and call NHS 111 in the first instance for health care advice. Cleaners and domestic staff are hugely valued members of our team and we hope Mitie finds a resolution soon.”

May 30, 2022