Outsourcers Sodexo and Mitie are being challenged by hospital workers fed up with being treated as second-class employees.
Twenty guards hired by Mitie to look after the security of patients and staff at Southampton General hospital have suffered repeated injuries over a period of months, yet neither hospital management nor Mitie are prepared to shell out for the appropriate safety clothing.
Hospital bosses pass the buck to Mitie, whilst Mitie whinge that their contract bid does not run to PPE (personal protective equipment).
The row over PPE is symptomatic of a wider malaise, with outsourced ancillary staff like these denied parity of esteem with NHS workers. Security staff should be employed directly by the hospital under NHS pay and conditions.
Similar injustices proliferate throughout the country. Up in Yorkshire, the dinner ladies who keep patients fed at Doncaster and Bassetlaw hospitals were informed by their outsourcing employer Sodexo that they would not be getting the pay rise enjoyed by NHS staff.
They decided it was time to come out of the kitchen and strike for three days at the beginning of May. Sodexo can hardly claim penury: they garnered £65m in the year to August 2018, £5m of which went straight into company directors’ pockets.