Updated Trust response to industrial action by Sodexo-employed staff at St Mary's Hospital

The Trust has issued the following statement, clarifying its position and actions in relation to ongoing industrial action at St Mary’s Hospital by Sodexo-employed staff:

We greatly value the work of facilities staff and the contribution they make to providing a safe and healthy environment for patients, visitors and colleagues. We are very clear that all of the staff who work in our hospitals – including through contracts with specialist companies like Sodexo – should be part of one team. The high quality care we provide to our patients is the result of collaboration between many different people and every role is important.

On 6 November, following a review of our mid-year financial position, the Trust was able to make a formal offer to Sodexo and the trade unions to bring forward its planned move to the London Living Wage to 1 November 2019. This means all facilities staff, currently employed by Sodexo, have had a pay increase to £10.55 per hour. Staff will see this pay increase in their pay packets by the end of the month at the latest and it will be backdated to 1 November. We are also working with UNISON and other partners to determine how a move to the London Living Wage as the minimum pay rate can best be achieved for staff employed through other external contracts.

We are also absolutely clear that all staff who work at our hospitals are welcome to use the facilities we provide for staff. There is a dedicated changing area for porters at St Mary’s that has been found to be in an inadequate state of repair and we are in the process of securing a better facility on the site. We will act immediately if a Sodexo member of staff feels they are being prevented from using rest facilities. This week, Sodexo staff shared reports of a number of cases of unresolved unfair treatment relating to sick leave and other aspects of their employment which our director of people and organisational development and our director of nursing are following up urgently with Sodexo. We have also specified in the current retendering of our facilities management contract a range of improvements that will benefit both staff and the service.

The issue of staff being on different employment contracts due to TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)) rules and the whole approach to using contractors to provide some specialist services is complex. We think it is really important not to conflate improvements we want to - and can make - for our facilities and other contract staff in the short to medium term with a much wider consideration of the pros and cons of using external companies. We are already starting work with UNISON and others to explore the potential for achieving Agenda for Change terms and conditions for all staff as an additional action.

While we recognise people feel passionately about the concerns that have been raised and emotions are running high, everyone has the right to be treated with respect and to not be subject to aggressive or intimidating behaviour. This applies equally to Sodexo-employed staff, Trust-employed staff and trade union representatives as well as patients and members of the public. We really hope that we can move forward, working closely with staff, our trade union and contract partners, to ensure staff and patients do now see significant benefit from the changes we are making and that improvements continue to be made.