Press release: Hospital laundry workers denied full pay for isolation could be putting patients at risk

Hospital laundry workers denied full pay for isolation could be putting patients at risk

  • Hospital laundry workers denied proper sick pay in south London
  • Patients could be at risk, as sick workers incentivised to work when ill, say trade unionists
  • Campaign for full sick pay endorsed by local MP

Campaigners and MPs have expressed alarm as it emerged that hospital laundry workers in south London were not being given proper sick pay or isolation pay.

Workers at Elis Laundry in Brixton, South London, do not get full pay if they have to self-isolate, meaning that workers are incentivised to come into work even if they are sick or living with vulnerable people. The outsourced NHS service provides laundry to hospitals across south London.

Union representatives have sounded the alarm about the situation. The Statutory Sick Pay paid to workers is not enough to live on, and will not even cover most workers’ rent. The lack of full sick pay could be putting patients at risk, they say.

Lambeth UNISON have launched a campaign to demand full sick and isolation pay for workers at Elis Laundry. Their petition is here.

Lambeth UNISON Branch Secretary Ruth Cashman said:

“Without proper sick pay, workers face a choice between going to work or not being able to eat or pay the rent.  It is a vital that all workers in the workplace, whether directly-employed or outsourced and regardless of contractual status, are guaranteed full pay from day one of any self-isolation or sickness absence. They also need personal protective equipment. Without these measures, the spread of the Covid-19 will be quicker and therefore far more deadly.”

Bell Ribeiro Addy, MP for Streatham, said:

“I stand with Elis Laundry staff, who are calling for full sick pay and proper hygiene breaks. By not offering measures like these, employers are putting both workers and the general public at greater risk of Covid-19.”

Stuart Jordan, an NHS nurse based in East London, said:

“If a laundry worker has no rights to sick and isolation pay then that is a problem for everyone working and being cared for in the NHS. If these workers don’t have financial security to comply with public health advice then that puts us all at risk. Every day bosses refuse to act on this issue increases the risks to all of us.”

 

ENDS

NOTES

1. For more information, please email rcashman@lambeth.gov.uk or ring Ruth on +44 7756 786309

2. Lambeth UNISON is a local government branch of the public sector union.

3. Workers and trade unionists are available for broadcast interviews

 

COVID-19: TAKE ACTION TO WIN SAFE WORKPLACES

Government advice is that we should all be staying at home unless absolutely necessary. We want to make sure you do not lose pay for doing the right thing keeping yourself and others safe!

Some people will need to go out to work as they do essential work, if this is you we need to make sure your work and workplace are as safe as possible.

COVID-19: TAKE ACTION TO WIN SAFE WORKPLACES

Has your boss:

  • Guaranteed full pay (not Statutory Sick Pay, SSP) and no disciplinary action for all workers from day one of any absence, including self-isolation without symptoms?
  • Taken necessary precautions to minimise the risk of exposure?
  • Made arrangements for workers whose children’s schools have closed?

Some company’s already have arrangements in place others don’t, either way we can help!
If not, there are actions that you and your workmates can take.

Contact Lambeth UNISON! Rcashman@lambeth.gov.uk Shannah@lambeth.gov.uk

Elect a health and safety representative. You have the right to do this even if there is not a recognised trade union in your workplace.

Draw up a list of demands and table them to your boss. Speak to us if you want help.

Where you believe that you are in serious and imminent danger,  you can refuse to work. Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 says that you can remove yourself from a workplace if you are in imminent danger.

You have the legal right to do all these things.

Stay safe,

Ruth and Simon

Support the Pension strikes in France

Motion agreed at our branch committee on 21 January 2020 

This branch notes:

The fourth national day of strikes and demonstrations across France on 9th January saw massive action against French president Emmanuel Macron’s attacks on pensions. According to union figures, 370,000 people marched in Paris—up by 20,000 from the last day of national action on 17 December. Elsewhere 120,000 took to the streets in Toulouse, 35,000 in the port city of Le Havre, 30,000 in Rouen, 27,000 in Lyon and 25,000 in Grenoble. In Marseille 220,000 people took part, an increase from the 150,000 on 5 and 10 December and 200,000 on 17 December.

Those marching across France included striking rail and public transport workers, refinery, hospital and civil service workers, dockers, teachers, firefighters, barristers, Yellow Vests and more.

Across the country about half of teachers were out on strike, 60 percent in Paris. Over two-thirds of train drivers and nearly 60 percent of train controllers struck according to management figures. Only a skeleton service—staffed by managers and a few scabs—ran on the Paris Metro. All eight oil refineries in France started a four-day strike from 12 noon on Tuesday 7th January. The CGT union reported that this halted the movement of fuel by tanker or pipeline completely.

The government still wants £10.2 billion cuts in pension spending and a system that will mean most people working longer and get less.

 

This branch believes:

  • The strikers are correct to reject Macron’s partial climb-down (which will still leave most people worse off)
  • There is a danger that the union leaders will allow the strikers to be isolated.
  • That in the UK it is our duty to show solidarity and to raise awareness of the strikes through our unions, despite the near total news blackout.


This branch supports:

  • The call for a general strike in France to secure full victory
  • ‘Twinning’ with our sister union in France to update our members on what is happening and to develop solidarity between French and British workers
  • A donation to the Strike fund of £50

Stop the Tories new anti union laws!

Johnson’s government has pledged to introduce even more restrcitive anti union laws to make effective strikes on transport unlawful. This is a direct attack on workers democratic rights.

Although the clear target is the RMT and other unions on the under ground, the proposed laws will target all transport workers, including trains and buses.

An initial meeting at Islington Trades Council agreed to establish a network of trade unionists and campaigners to oppose the new law and counter the anti working class arguments from the right wing and the millionaire press. The Free Our Unions campaign, which Lambeth Unison supports, has also been calling for joint activity involving unions and campaign groups to resist new anti-union laws, and will be promoting the meeting on 11 February.

Come to UNISON office at Blue Star House, Stockwell Road, SW9 9SP at 7pm on Tuesday 11 February. The more union branches and campaigners come, the stronger we are.

There are plans for rallies across the capital and a protest march as well. But we need to be creative and think how we can resist this new law, not just protest it.

Facebook event here