Once again our lowest paid key workers are left out in the cold, says Janet Daby MP and GMB Union
The families of NHS cleaners and carers being left out of the Home Office bereavement scheme is an ‘outrageous scandal’, says GMB union.
Under the scheme if an NHS worker dies from covid-19 their dependants are automatically given indefinite leave to remain free of charge. This grants their dependants the right to remain in the UK without any time limit on their stay and allows them to take up employment or study.
But the Home office has confirmed this only applies to certain occupations like radiographers, nurses, biochemists and phycologists leaving social care workers, hospital cleaners and porters ‘out in the cold’.
Janet Daby, Member of Parliament for Lewisham East, Shadow Minister for Faiths and former Home Affairs Select Committee member said:
“It is right that the Government has provided protections to the bereaved families of migrant NHS doctors and nurses to remain in the UK.
“But this must now be extended to the bereaved families of all NHS workers (security officers, porters, cleaners and catering staff), who have risked their lives to protect us all.
“Without these protections we risk putting their spouse and dependents at the mercy of the governments’ hostile environment policy.
“Claps and thank yous are simply not enough, we must protect the dependents of all our migrant NHS workers that have passed away due to Coronavirus.
“They have sacrificed so much for us and where they have stood up for our country, we need to stand up for their families.”
Lola McEvoy, GMB NHS Organiser, said:
“This is heartless – it’s an outrageous scandal. Once again our lowest paid key workers are left out in the cold.
“We ask them to take the maximum risk – but they get minimal reward.
“They have been drafted to the front of the fight on covid-19 and if, as so many have, they lose their lives in doing so – their families are not looked after.
“It’s only right that they’re offered the same security, and peace of mind, as directly employed NHS staff – after all they face the same dangers.”
Catherine, an NHS cleaner from Nigeria, said:
“I’ve been working here for 10 years with a ‘right to remain’ visa that I renew. I’ve got two children; my daughter was born in Nigeria and my son in the UK.
“I love my job but it’s been incredibly dangerous for all of us working in the hospital.
“We’ve all come together as a family to fight this virus. So many colleagues have lost their lives and it would make the world of difference and give me peace of mind, to me to know that if something happened to me, my children would be able to continue their life together, in their home as a family.
“It’s hurtful that we’re treated differently from our colleagues who we work with every day – but I’m grateful for my health and proud to have been on the front-line helping those who need it most.