Cleaners and porters employed by food services and facilities management organisation Sodexo, who are based at Charing Cross Hospital in London, are hosting a protest picnic today (Thursday 4 July 2019) in an ongoing pay dispute.
The picnic, organised by the trade union GMB, will see Sodexo’s porters, cleaners and domestic staff who work at Charing Cross Hospital, as well as their supporters, congregate outside the main hospital on Fulham Palace Road at 3.00pm, to enjoy a picnic of pizza, cakes and soft drinks. There will also be low music.
The protest picnic is in response to a two-tier wage system affecting approximately 1,100 Sodexo staff based at St Mary’s Hospital, Charing Cross Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital, according to GMB. This sees the majority of employees being paid the national living wage rate of £8.21 an hour, while some staff, who perform the same work, are being paid £11 an hour, according to the trade union. GMB has argued that employees should be paid equally for completing the same tasks.
The trade union is seeking an imminent pay rise for its affected members, ahead of Sodexo’s commitment to increase pay next year.
In June 2019, GMB organised protests across the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, at St Mary’s Hospital, Charing Cross Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital in reaction to the continued pay dispute.
Michael Dooley, local officer at GMB, said: “The general public will be surprised to hear that the staff in Charing Cross are paid only the minimum wage. Porters who care for patients and the deceased, cleaners who clean the blood, sick and other waste and the staff who keep the hospital moving 24 hours a day deserve more than the minimum wage.
“A picnic protest is a novel way of drawing attention to the plight of the staff working in Charing Cross Hospital; many staff are new to Britain and will appreciate the efforts by the union to get them involved in this protest.
“The protests are hoped to draw attention to the poor wages and obtain increases in pay rather than to go on strike at the hospitals, but [staff] understand they may have to go on strike if their wages are not increased.”
A spokesperson at Sodexo added: “Our bid for the new facilities management contract at Imperial NHS Trust proposes to pay the London living wage as the minimum pay rate from April 2020. If this is successful, we will pass this pay increase on to our teams.”