HUNDREDS of hospital cleaners in Southampton could strike before Christmas because they haven’t been receiving sick pay.

Staff are set to ballot over bosses’ refusals to give them equal benefits with other hospital employees.

This could see some 250 cleaners striking in December – one of the busiest times of year for the hospitals. Their union is demanding an estimated £700,000 back pay for the past four years.

A cleaner who has worked at the hospital since 2006 would be entitled to receive about £3,000.

Unison says its members have voted to take the step because they’ve been deprived of full wage entitlements, including sick leave pay.

Regional organiser Andy Straker said: “This meant they were having to go to work ill – I would certainly not like to be in a bed next to a cleaner with flu. The fact is it’s their money and they are entitled to it.”

The union has been calling on the Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the General and the Princess Anne, and the private cleaning company Medirest to fully implement Government guidelines for better conditions introduced in 2006.

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