A cleaner at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich faces the sack because he complained about not being given PPE to wear, his trade union says.
The GMB union says the man, who is employed by the outsourcing company ISS, was told he was not entitled to wear a facemask, even though he lives with his brother, who is at high risk of contracting Covid-19.
ISS is said to have instituted disciplinary proceedings for “violent behaviour”, the union says.
The GMB says that ISS has refused to provide it with notes from its investigation. ISS maintains the argument had nothing to do with PPE.
Union organiser Helen O’Connor said: “It is simply staggering that a complaint about a lack of PPE in hospitals can lead to a worker being disciplined.
“Now more than ever employers should be doing everything in their power to ensure that hospital staff don’t contract or transmit the virus.
“They should be taking all steps necessary to assist the NHS to retain the staff needed to keep the hospital safe during this pandemic.
“GMB will vigorously protect members’ health and safety in the workplace where it is being threatened by poor practice. Any member who feels their health and safety is being put at risk though a lack of PPE should contact us immediately.”
Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, declined to comment. ISS told 853: “ISS is following all Covid-19 guidelines as set by the government and working very closely with Public Health England and the NHS to ensure that our employees are protected and are as safe as possible. The investigation of the employee referred to is unrelated to Covid-19, or with regards to PPE.
“Our employees are provided with the appropriate PPE, in accordance with their role and in line with government guidelines.”
The row over PPE is the latest dispute between staff and ISS, which recently signed a new contract to provide “soft facilities management” services – including portering, cleaning, catering and the switchboard – to both Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Lewisham Hospital.
Last month, cleaners at Lewisham Hospital walked out after they were not paid while a year ago staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital protested after a change to the way they were paid led to delays to them recieving their money. The GMB has been campaigning for the services to be taken in-house.
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