Nearly 600 health workers employed at Bart’s health trust, including Royal London, Whipps Cross and St. Barts hospitals, have voted 97% in favour of strike action for fair pay, and against increasing workloads and bullying. Strikes will be set for January 2022.
Serco Group PLC had a turnover of £3.9 billion last year but the multinational is offering staff just a 1% pay ‘hike’. The staff, which include cleaners and porters, are paid up to 15% less than directly employed NHS staff.
Outsourced Barts health workers in strike ballot for a pay rise
17TH NOVEMBER 2021
by Unite Shop Steward Barts Health Trust
Nearly 600 health workers employed at Bart’s health trust, including Royal London, Whipps Cross and St. Barts hospitals, are balloting for strike action for fair pay, and against increasing workloads and bullying.
The workers are members of Unite and employed by private company Serco. They provide essential support services to patients as cleaners, porters, patient food catering workers, reception staff, and security guards. The workers’ pay claim for 15% reflects the pay gap between these outsourced workers, and those directly employed by the NHS doing the same jobs, a shortfall of nearly £3k per year.
A porter told the Socialist: “We haven’t got smaller shopping bills or rents than workers employed directly by the NHS doing the same jobs. It simply is unfair and that’s why we have to take action”.
Serco, that made huge profits from the failed test-and-trace debacle, has offered these key workers, who put their lives on the line over the last two years, a miserly 1% — a real-terms pay cut.
Last week, the company gave the trust 18 months’ notice that it will be ending the contract in April 2023. This was received with joy and relief by the workers themselves. But the campaign to pressure the Barts Trust board to bring these workers and services back in house as soon as possible begins now. A huge Yes vote for strike action in the current ballot will greatly assist in this goal.
Barts bosses, having privatised these services, bear responsibility for the situation that has developed. They must now intervene to ensure the union’s pay claim is met in full. Also, that the years of outsourcing are ended and that these workers are given full NHS pay, terms and conditions.