|Volume 51 Number 13, April 17, 2021||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
On April 12, the GMB union organised a protest outside Lewisham Hospital in South East London in support of the hospital cleaners. The cleaners are opposed to plans by private contractor ISS to cut 495 hours from its cleaning contract with Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust. At the lively protest, hospital cleaners were joined by GMB members and Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign supporters, as well as by members of the local community.
The attempt by ISS to cut the hours worked by the cleaners would be the second hours and jobs cull that it has introduced since it took over the contract in February 2020. There is increasing unrest in the hospital around the risk of cross-infection, as cleaners are already struggling with impossible workloads, and the company is advising "spot cleaning" rather than thorough cleaning in some areas of the hospital. GMB has pointed out that patients themselves could be at increased risk of Covid-19 due to cuts in the cleaning services.
Helen O'Connor, GMB regional organiser, speaking at the protest, said: "From day one, ISS have been failing the staff and the patients in Lewisham hospital. 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 corona virus 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."
Olivia O'Sullivan, Secretary of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign, spoke in support of the hospital cleaners, saying that they had the full backing of the Campaign, and she denounced the privatisation of health care.
This struggle of the Lewisham hospital cleaners demonstrates yet again that the privatisation of the NHS which the government is relentless pursuing puts private interests before the healthcare needs of the people.
Support the Lewisham Hospital Cleaners!
Healthcare Is a Right!