Cleaners at HCA protest over low pay and lack of sick pay

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Outsourced cleaners working in private healthcare giant HCA hospitals will be taking part in a protest outside its headquarters today at 3pm over “poverty pay” and a lack of proper sick pay.

The workers, who are members of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), will be joined by Migrants Organise as part of the Solidarity Knows No Borders week of action that includes more than 60 migrant groups and organisations across the country.

The outsourced cleaners working in London HCA hospitals, who are demanding to be paid £12.50 per hour and have full sick pay, launched a campaign back in February over “poverty pay and poor working conditions”. They have stated that they lack proper sick pay, resulting in many being unable to afford to take time off sick, and that they are overworked, often facing disciplinary action from management for raising concerns and questioning poor management.

Henry Chango Lopez, general secretary at the IWGB, said: “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, chief executive officer of Migrants Organise, added: “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. Profiting from the exploitation of essential workers is unacceptable and we applaud the IWGB members for taking action.”

A HCA spokesperson said: “For HCA Healthcare UK, the care and safety of our patients and workers is our highest priority. All staff working in our hospitals, regardless of whether they are employed by us, have access to infection prevention and control training and appropriate levels of PPE, as guided by best practice, to ensure we maintain the highest levels of hygiene safety for patients, visitors and colleagues.”