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Never forget

Vigil for Liverpool hospital worker
Ciaran Naidoo, Thursday, December 7th, 2017

A candle light vigil will be held at St George’s Hall tomorrow (December 8) to remember a Liverpool hospital worker employed by ISS who tragically died this time last year, and to continue the growing campaign for a humane sick pay scheme for hundreds of Liverpool hospital workers.


ISS a multinational outsourcing company, stands accused of stripping its workforce at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust of a fair sick pay policy. The Liverpool hospital workers are fighting back.


It meant Freda Smith, who was diagnosed with cancer, felt she was unable to afford to remain off work while trying to recover from surgery.


Freda, along with hundreds of other workers were stripped of a fair sick pay policy, equivalent to the NHS one after ISS secured a facilities management contract from the Trust.


It was replaced with an inferior scheme where employees can only accrue 12 sick days per year. This compares to the NHS sick pay scheme where workers get up to six months on full pay and a further six months on half pay. It would take around 15 years’ service with ISS, without a single day off sick to accrue six months on full pay.


The ISS sick pay policy means the most seriously ill, suffering from illnesses like cancer, heart problems, or physical injuries, could face the unacceptable choice of either working when unfit to do so, or facing severe financial difficulties like the ones Freda Smith endured.


Speakers at the candle light vigil include Ann O’Byrne, deputy mayor of Liverpool City Council, Stephen Twigg, MP West Derby and Freda Flattery, Freda Smith’s daughter.


Ann O’Byrne, deputy mayor of Liverpool City Council said, “Freda Smith’s family are rightly hurt and angry and I hope this vigil will help them to heal. The members of Liverpool City Council today stand shoulder to shoulder with Freda’s family and the ISS workers fighting for a fair sick pay scheme.


“I believe that the ISS sick pay policy is a disgrace and it is time for Aiden Kehoe the CEO of the hospital Trust to intervene and tell ISS to get its house in order.


Unite regional officer Keith Hutson said, “Our candle light vigil is to remember the life of Freda Smith, a much loved member of our community. It is also to remember the workers who are fighting against the cruel sick pay scheme which Freda’s family believes forced her back to work.


“All workers at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals should have the same sick pay scheme.  ISS must do the right thing and end its attack on sick pay. It’s wrong that workers are being denied access to a humane sick pay scheme while working at a hospital of all places.”


ISS facilities staff provide vital services to the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospitals, cleaning hospital wards, transporting patients around hospital departments and cooking for patients, visitors and staff.


The candle light vigil will take place at 7.30pm at St George’s Hall, St George’s Place, Liverpool L1 1JJ. The service will be delivered by Canon Ellen Loudon, the Canon of the Diocese of Liverpool and Director of Social Justice for the Diocese of Liverpool.


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