The dispute between workers at Kingston Hospital and the private sector contractor who employs them was raised at Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament yesterday (February 6).

During Prime Minister's Questions, Croydon North MP Steve Reed (Labour) asked the government whether it would condemn ISS, who are a private contractor at Kingston Hospital, after the GMB union which is representing ISS employees there said that one staff member had been denied sick pay by the company after suffering a stroke.

Steve Reed MP said: "ISS are private contractors who employ some of my constituents as porters and cleaners at Kingston hospital - but they won’t pay them sick pay. One was refused sick pay after suffering a stroke and coercing people who are sick to come into a hospital risks infecting vulnerable patents.

"ISS have now threatened to break off negotiations with the GMB trade union if there is any political campaigning in this issue, including contacting MPs. Will he condemn ISS for undermining their workers' basic democratic right to contact their MP and will he call on ISS to pay their workers fairly, including when they are sick?"

David Lidington, the Conservative MP and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, was standing in for Prime Minister Theresa May during the debate.

He said that Health Secretary Matt Hancock would consult with Mr Reed on the issue in detail.

Mr Lidington added that any attempt to block constituents from access to their MP might be considered contempt of parliament.

"There is no excuse for any organization or any individual to try to stop a constituent from approaching their member of parliament. While it is a matter ultimately for you, Mr Speaker...there have been previous occasions where such attempts have been ruled as a contempt of a Parliament."

Responding to the latest developments, GMB Regional Organizer Helen O'Connor said: "The way ISS have been treating their workforce is now coming under parliamentary scrutiny. GMB welcome this. The issues ISS employers face is not getting decent sick pay and low wages are happening up and down this country.

"The poor treatment private companies taking over our NHS mete out to hospital workers is a nationwide issue. ISS managers are so arrogant that they even thought they could get away with stripping our members of democratic right to access their MP.

"GMB Union is determined to hold all of these private providers to account and I would urge every hospital worker to join a fighting trade union like GMB."

ISS were contacted for comment on the latest developments and said that their previous position remained unchanged.

An ISS spokesperson told the Comet last week (January 31) that they did not recognize GMB as the legitimate union of their employees at Kingston hospital, and that they partnered with the UNISON union instead. The private contractors added that a sick pay scheme was in place for all their employees at the site.

The ISS statement (January 31) read: "We are disappointed that GMB continues to demonstrate outside the hospital, when they are not the lawfully recognised trade union for ISS employees at Kingston...Our employees enjoy terms and conditions of service which compare favourably with employers in our sector and, more widely with employers in the UK."

GMB union have said that ISS managers and other 'salaried staff' all get sick pay from the moment they join the company, while the ISS porters, caterers and cleaners they represent at the site must wait to accrue sick pay 'credits' before receiving sick pay.