Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) cleaners from racialised minority backgrounds are taking their employer to court claiming indirect racial discrimination over pay inequality. A group of 83 GOSH cleaners are claiming indirect racial discrimination within the NHS
A dispute over pay and conditions
The United Voices of the World (UVW) union is supporting the group of mostly Black, Brown and migrant workers. The litigation comes after GOSH cleaners won a case against their outsourcing in 2021. The workers originally worked for private contractor OCS Group UK. The case forced GOSH to bring its cleaners’ contracts in-house.
But the group alleges that GOSH is still not giving them the same pay and benefits as other NHS workers, who are predominantly white.
Memuna Kabia, a cleaner for GOSH and a UVW member said:
GOSH has been robbing us for a long time, and finding excuses not to treat us fairly. They are meant to look after us, but they left us in the hands of private companies who bullied us and denied us our right to NHS pay and other benefits. GOSH knew about it and did nothing. So we need to take them to court to get justice.
In 2021, UVW supported outsourced Royal Park attendants in a similar case. In a landmark judgement, an employment tribunal ruled that the Royal Park’s outsourcing of contracts was unlawful as it amounted to indirect race discrimination.
The litigating GOSH cleaners are demanding the same pay and conditions as other NHS staff. They also seek compensation for the years spent working under inferior private contracts.
UVW general secretary Petros Elia said:
This lawsuit will be a permanent stain on the already tarnished reputation of GOSH. And it should also send a strong message to other NHS Trusts out there, that if you outsource your facilities workers and don’t give them NHS contracts, then we’ll be coming for you in the courts and on the picket line.
GOSH security guards – who are gearing up to strike – are also considering bringing the same legal claim against their employer on the grounds that their outsourcing is race discrimination.
Addressing the claims, a spokesperson for Great Ormond Street Hospital told The Canary:
Our cleaning and domestic services colleagues are valued members of our team and we welcomed them directly into NHS employment in August 2021. Since then, we have been working to bring the multiple sets of terms and conditions of this team in line with NHS frameworks. All staff, irrespective of role, are on NHS contracts.
On transfer we aligned sick pay, maternity and paternity pay, holiday pay and provided access to the NHS pension scheme. All staff also received a 3% pay rise, with the lowest paid staff receiving an extra 4%, to ensure alignment with their NHS counterparts. In line with other NHS staff, all staff are on standardised pay rates based on role.
This has been a complex process because staff had so many different contractual agreements which were protected by law on transfer. These have to be unpicked carefully to ensure no-one is accidently disadvantaged. We are committed to full-scale harmonisation of terms and conditions across all areas and continue to work towards this in partnership with the domestic services.
Featured image via Ashwini Chaudhary/Unsplash
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?