After pay rise, Luton hospital cleaners still won’t earn a living wage

They've won an increase to £9.21 from November.

Outsourced cleaners, caterers and housekeepers at Luton and Dunstable hospital have won a pay rise taking them to at least £9.21 an hour, the same rate as their directly-employed colleagues.

The raise will come into force in November when their current employer’s contract ends. The next outsourcing company to win the contract has not been decided but the pay rise is guranteed.

According to trade union Unison, staff overwhelmingly backed the deal. Many previously earned the minimum wage of £8.72. Unison regional organiser Shane Hall called it “brilliant news”.

He said: “We spent weeks clapping our NHS staff while many L&D cleaners were doing an absolutely vital job in the hospital for minimum wage. This deal means they’ve got something to applaud themselves.

He added: “This isn’t everything we’ve been fighting for — cleaners, caterers and housekeepers would feel far more valued and part of the NHS family if they were on full NHS contracts — but it’s a life-changing improvement for these vital workers.”

The Living Wage outside of London is £9.30. This is calculated by the Living Wage foundation and is supposed to be the rate of pay people need to get by on. This is different to the ‘National Living Wage’ which is how George Osborne rebranded the minimum wage in 2015.

The chief executive of the hospital’s trust was paid a salary of between £180,000 and £185,000 in the last financial year. The staff are currently employed by Engie, a French company which mainly operates in the energy sector. The French state has a 24% stake in it.

While Luton and Dunstable’s outsourced caterers got a pay rise, 100 have recently been sacked at East London hospitals. Those that weren’t sacked have had their working hours cut.

Joe Lo is a co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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