Non-medical staff employed at Barts Health NHS Trust hospitals have announced that they are contemplating strike action after private medical contractor Serco did not respond to their demands for better working conditions and an increase in hourly pay.
Strike action balloting
Security guards, porters and domestic staff working at Royal London Hospital, Mile End Hospital, St Bartholomew’s Hospital and Whipps Cross University Hospital will be voting in the next few days on whether to take strike action.
Unite Regional Officer Gloria Sindall said that the non-medical staff have been paid below inflation for years, so they deserve a pay increase. She said that the staff are asking for an increase of 30p an hour, but the private contractor has not responded to their demands.
Sindall also stated that the contractor is planning to reduce the number of porters at Whipps Cross University Hospital, and the staff are opposing this action as it will cause job losses and burden the existing staff unnecessarily.
She added that the cleaners working in all hospitals under the trust have had to face a significant increase in their workload, and the staff deserve better pay and fairer treatment.
Private medical contractor’s take
Serco was awarded the contract to manage the facilities under Barts Health NHS Trust. The contract is worth £600 million.
Serco Contract Director Phil Mitchell said that the company is disappointed with Unite’s actions, as Serco has been closely working with the union representatives recently to improve working conditions and pay.
Mitchell added that Serco believes that staff ought to be rewarded for their hard work and that is why the company agreed to the trust’s request that workers be paid the minimum of the London Living Wage, which has resulted in several staff members getting a significant salary increase.