Housekeeping, catering and maintenance staff at East Kent hospitals strike in dispute over covid payment

2gether staff took industrial action Photo Frank Leppard

East Kent Hospitals staff employed by contractor 2gether Support Solutions and who are members of the Unite union, are on strike at sites including QEQM in Margate today [December 15] in a dispute over a covid payment.

NHS staff were awarded a  sum of at least £1,655 after a government agreement in May to recognise the pressures on staff who worked through the covid pandemic.

But 2gether staff, comprising of roles in housekeeping, catering, portering and maintenance at hospitals, did not receive any payment. 2gether Support Solutions is a subsidiary firm owned by East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust (EKHUFT).

It is said the non NHS staff did not receive payment because they are outsourced. However, after the NHS deal was agreed outsourced staff  and employers launched legal action and it was agreed those employers could also apply for funding to cover the payments.

The government agreed to provide the additional funding for organisations with contracts to deliver NHS services, who employ their staff on dynamically linked Agenda for Change contracts. While these staff are contractually eligible for the payments, the independent organisations are responsible for making them.

One member who is striking today said: “We are fighting for the covid money that NHS staff [received] because they worked in the  covid 19 pandemic.  We are cleaners who were always going to infections rooms and we risked taking the virus home to our family and we deserve [the payment] too.”

2gether workers will also take strike action tomorrow [December 16] and on Monday December 18].


  1. As 2gether Support Solutions is a subsidiary firm owned by East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust (EKHUFT),they must be seen as part of the NHS, stop the weasel words and pay them what they are due.

    • Totally agree John. Aptly named little outfit for cost-cutting, not the ‘2gether’ bit which is palpably untrue, but the ‘Solutions’ part as EKHUFT can claim that the NHS doesn’t employ these staff. Well I guess according to some technicality that claim might stand but everyone here can see straight through it.

  2. Seems very unfair there all working together in the same building. Taking risks every day. God only knows what infections and germs are in these places of work.Pay them you can’t give to 1 side . Of the work force that must leave a bad feeling between the staff.

  3. A lifetime ago, as a Trainee Manager in Catering I was taught that without Cleaners the business would be closed down, I spent weeks learning how to clean to highest standards, as well as every other aspect of ‘housekeeping’ before I was allowed to do anything else. Of course these staff are them before you lose them!

  4. A really bad call by the employer. Even if they are only looking at the reputational damage to the organisation. Act quickly, apologise, pay the amount directly into the employee’s bank accounts before Christmas and then claim it back from the government. What were the HR team thinking of!

  5. Sounds like hospital management may have “privatised” these peoples work by creating this “separate company” as a way of reducing wages. Which is what privatisation is all about.

  6. Why are these people not harassing there MP, as it’s the Government which has caused the interest rate hike, inflation sky rocket and complete mismanagement of the nations affairs, we are as a country performing worse and suffering more than the USA and Europe. Well done Tories and the continued succession of unelected leaders for doing what Hitler couldn’t, kill the country. They continue to show bad judgement locally and centrally.

    • Steve – give it a rest please. You are becoming very boring and as for your comment concerning Hitler, grow up. My fathers brother died in WW 2 to give clowns like your your freedom. Respect his sacrifice and keep drawing your benefits!!

      • You know nothing about me, but you have shown a lot about your character, so you do some growing up and because someone doesn’t agree with you, it doesn’t make them wrong. You should rename yourself Mr Snowflake, woke fool.

  7. So the 2 together is clearly NOT together when it comes to being fair to staff. What a disgusting employer no wonder staff are leaving in their droves.

  8. Shouldn’t really say this as fed-up b AKA Mr snowflake may not like it, but for 2 decades the NHS has been privatised by stealth, run by idiots. Government again, not effective and cost too much, needs to be taken in house.

  9. In my opinion, these people deserve more respect and support. my mother was in the hospital and she remembers one employee with whom she could smile even in bad moments, came to clean and respectfully said a few words to my mother, who was touched and happy. These people are very important in the hospital (I am talking about employees who work not in offices) other people were sitting safely at home when these people working in the hospital were 24 hours a day with viruses and other diseases to support and even save human lives from this damn dangerous covid virus -19. MORE RESPECT FOR THESE PEOPLE, MORE SUPPORT AND UNDERSTANDING… thank you heroes for the great work you do, without you the hospital had no right to exist!! I and my family are with you in my heart and you deserve this remuneration… pay these people immediately without false promises!! Chloe

  10. This trust is in major financial trouble so that is probably why these excellent cleaners are unpaid. I would stay on strike until paid if I were one. Useless Trust managers but excellent staff. However some doctors need some extra training. My experiences there have been mixed. Some very sloppy work at times. Maternity is a mess as well.

  11. I worked for this company through agencies… the way employees are treated there is scandalous… the employer often forgets to pay the due money… even for overtime you have to ask for payment. Frequent lack of understanding of the situation of people who come to the office for help. there are more people in offices than there are workers… I know it won’t change anything because people in the office have relationships with each other, but I am asking for more respect for these people, they risk their health and the health of their families every day…

  12. I was a porter during the pandemic and I know for a fact the risks these support staff took standing shoulder to shoulder with the Doctors and Nurses the fact that these people have not been paid is a absolute disgrace!!
    The fact that this trust has mismanaged their funds is neither here nor there they should pay up and grow up!!

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