Hospital housekeeping, catering, portering and maintenance staff to take strike action

2gether staff took industrial action Photo Frank Leppard

Staff from 2gether Support Solutions, who provide services including catering, cleaning and portering in hospitals including QEQM at Margate, are taking industrial action from tomorrow (Tuesday 30 January) until Thursday 1 February.

The staff, employed by contractor 2gether Support Solutions and who are members of the Unite union, will strike in a dispute over a covid payment.

NHS staff were awarded a sum of at least £1,655 after a government agreement in last 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).

Additional funding

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 2gether staff member who was part of industrial action last month 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.”

‘Respect right to take action’

An East Kent Hospitals Trust statement says: “We fully respect our colleagues’ right to take action and know that the decision is not one that is taken without a great deal of thought, or lightly.

“We are committed to keeping disruption to services to a minimum. Our focus is on providing high standards of care for patients who need urgent and emergency services, and those receiving inpatient care in our hospitals.

“All appointments are being carried out as normal. However, to help us safely manage the impact of the industrial action, we have had to change the way we work in certain areas during these days.

“This also means the food available for patients will be different on these days. Most patients will be offered a selection of sandwiches, a selection of ham and vegetarian salads, yoghurts, mousse, ice cream, fruit and cheese, as well as cakes and biscuits for snacks.

“Those with any dietary requirements or who require specialist meals, for example patients with swallowing problems, will see no change in the menu, while our younger patients on the children’s ward will also be offered finger foods.”


  1. The east kent NHS trust have deceived the staff by setting another firm called 2together the sole purpose of the trust setting up this firm is to cheat staff out of their rightful payment rights that they used to have when they were employed directly by the NHS. It’s absolutely disgusting underhanded way to treat staff. The staff are right to strike to protest at their appalling treatment. The government have not given NHS trust enough money so east kent NHS trust have got around this short fall by robbing their staff of their money. Disgusting beyond belief shame on east kent NHS trust.

    • +1.
      During Covid, many of us (including the then Prime Minister) stood on our doorsteps clapping for the essential service staff who helped see us through the pandemic.
      The very least we can do is make sure that are treated fairly, and get the pay rise they deserve.

  2. Well, the company must had operated within the law, and rightfully sought to save money. It’s not the time for frivolous giveaways. This is shrewd business practice. +1

    The can punish the employer and retain pride by leaving. Striking only demonstrates willing to be publicly humiliated.

  3. That’s be honest this country is in one hell of a mess. Over a decade of tory cuts has the country on its knees . Not everyone has suffered the Tories mates and dodge employers have done well very well.

    I’m in my 60’s and it has a feel of thatcherism about it but without the riots. This time round we have lost the will to fight against it. To many people have thatcherism in their bloody. They have learnt to sod others and look after number one, make as much money at the expense of others.

    Thanet is thatcherism a shining example of it. Always votes Tories oddly.

  4. I’m also sure the hoardes of keyboard activists who frequent this board to vent sycophantic opinions on behalf of the unenviable less fortunate are fully paid up members of the I’m Alright Jack club.

    But ask them to dig deep into their pockets to come forward and support pious proles in their pursuit of ever for cash to fulfil their idolatry of avaricious endeavours and it’s not hard to see the reticence is justified.

  5. The best thing about Thatcher was her funeral. It was because of her that dangerous mentality unstable were put out on the streets to kill and innocent victims it was because of Thatcher that many councils I’ve gone bankrupt she stole the council houses and sold them off robbing the councils of billions of££££s of assets and rental income, it is because of Thatcher that rivers and sea is polluted with human waste because she allowed the utility companies to be sold off cheap, she ruined towns and villages up and down the country with evil disgusting politics, a truly evil women the NHS hospital parking charges and hospital chaos is also thanks to evil Thatcher.

    • Bill – still spouting bile? There have been governments of other colours since and little changed. Let’s hope your pension/ benefits still arrive each month.

      • Since Major took office on 28th November 1990, 34 years ago, there have been 13 years of Labour Governments and 21 years of Conservative Governments.

  6. I was at qeqm today ,a few on the picket line ,everything looked as if was running ok,plenty of porters cleaners ,do not know about catering staff

  7. Although your diatribe could be ameliorated with the humble full stop, there’s a lot of truth behind what you say.

    I am forever hopeful that many of these civic crimes could be undone with a future government that abstains from a theatrical “punch and Judy” with it’s citizens and recognise the importance of social cohesion and the having our assets all forcibly reined back into sovereign ownership.

    Thatcher did not do this all alone; ministers of the day were all up for it, thus collective blame is in order.

    Selling off council homes should not have happened, yes, but also remember the increased prosperity and international brinkmanship that flourished under Thatcher; there were many good things happening at the time, most notably Peace. The rot did not really begin until New Labour took the reins and perpetuated the sell off of key assets with that PPP nonsense.

    Returning to the controversy over the council homes sell-off, remember that a small number of intergenerational passdowns were allowed (some councils allowed 3?). Many are taking full advantage of this clause rendering the property unavailable to anyone else for at least 50 years, well before Thatcher came to power.

  8. Maybe the best thing to do is to allow people to chose, N.H.S or private, so they can decide who to pay, but not be forced to pay for the N.H.S. And Bill maybe the best thing about you will be YOUR FUNERAL.

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