‘Demoralising’ three-tier workforce creates £1,000 pay gap for Luton & Dunstable Hospital cleaners

Many cleaners at Luton & Dunstable Hospital are more than £1,000 a year worse off than their colleagues doing the same job because of a “confusing and demoralising” three-tier workforce created by outsourcer Engie, UNISON warns today.

UNISON, the union representing workers at Luton & Dunstable Hospital, is calling on the Trust not to renew Engie’s contract next year and instead bring cleaning, catering and housekeeping back in-house to clear up the mess created by outsourcing.

Staff who were transferred out of the National Health Service to Engie in 2015 are being paid NHS rates of £9.02 an hour but anyone who’s started since is paid the legal minimum of £8.21 an hour. Cleaners who started in the last year aren’t even receiving overtime rates for working on public holidays.

This means new starters are paid at least £1,400 less than colleagues who were at the hospital before cleaning services were sold off, with the gap in earnings growing even wider for the many staff who work overtime to make ends meet.

Engie employees have also told UNISON that they are being denied leave and being made to take the blame when the contractor is pulled up by the Trust for any shortcomings in service.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Winston Dorsett said: “Cleaning, catering and housekeeping staff are paying the price for Engie’s profiteering.

“It’s completely unfair that when two workers are doing exactly the same job, one will end up £1,400 worse off at the end of the year – before even taking into account the hundreds of hours of overtime that so many of these employees rely upon.

“And Engie has confused and demoralised its staff further with a third set of pay and conditions brought in last year to squeeze a bit more cash out of the taxpayer.

“This firm is making its profits off the backs of some of the lowest-paid workers in our NHS.

“We hope the hospital will work with UNISON to bring this injustice to an end so these vital services can be properly valued in the NHS.”

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