Employees of healthcare catering and facility management services provider Medirest, who are members of trade union GMB and work at Northwick Park Hospital, are undertaking a protest today (19 Septmeber 2019) in reaction to complaints over pay, management practices and heavy workloads.
Medirest, part of Compass Group UK, provides catering, cleaning, logistics, vending and procurement services for more than 20 NHS trusts across the UK. The protests relate to concerns over minimum wage pay rates at Northwick Park Hospital, which GMB has stated do not allow for increasingly heavy workloads.
The organisation has 555,000 employees worldwide, 400 of whom are employed at Northwick Park. GMB has predicted that approximately 150 will be attending today’s protests.
According to GMB, Medirest employees, employed as porters, cleaners, ward hosts and kitchen staff at Northwick Park Hospital are currently being paid the national minimum wage rate, set at £8.21 per hour for individuals aged over 25.
Medirest’s pay rates are set out in its client contracts and agreed in partnership with the NHS trusts it provides services to.
In addition to low pay and heavy workloads, staff are protesting alleged bullying and overbearing management behaviours.
The protest will take place from 2.30pm to 4.00pm today, outside Northwick Park Hospital, which is part of the London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust.
GMB has stated that Gareth Thomas MP, Labour MP for Harrow West, and Dawn Butler MP, Labour MP for Brent Central, will also be attending.
This is the second protest to take place regarding this dispute; on 5 September 2019, approximately 100 Medirest employees at Northwick Park Hospital undertook similar action. In addition, 400 individuals signed a petition stating their concerns over bullying practices in the workplace.
Tahir Bhatti, GMB regional organiser, said: “We have had one protest already and we will have more protests to draw attention to the plight of these workers, many [of whom] are immigrant workers from Nepal.
“The GMB will not stand back and allow a multinational billion pound [organisation] to pay minimum wage and operate what we have been told [is] a culture of bullying workers to work hard so Medirest can profit even more.
“This union will not tolerate any staff in the NHS who, in our view, are being exploited. All those who work in the NHS should be treated equally, no more, no less.”
A spokesperson for Medirest said: “We are aware of this protest by some of our Medirest employees today and take such matters seriously. We are always happy to talk to anyone who works within our teams and are keen to maintain an open dialogue with our people on issues that are important to them.
“We take any allegations of bullying very seriously. We have robust HR procedures in place and would urge anyone with any concerns to come forward.”