Belfast Telegraph

Hospital workers vote for strikes in pay row

Cleaners, porters and security staff at several hospitals are to stage a series of strikes in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Unite union employed by private contractor Serco, working at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, voted by 99% in favour of industrial action.

Workers are now planning a three-day strike from July 4, followed by a seven-day stoppage starting on July 11 and then a 14-day strike from July 25.

Further action will also be planned for August and September.

Unite regional officer Gloria Sindall said: "Low-paid cleaners, porters and security staff have voted for strike action by a massive majority because they have seen their real living standards drop year on year.

"Workers are now demanding a 30p-per-hour wage increase. Serco made over £80 million in profit last year but managers are refusing to share these earnings fairly and protect the living standards of the workers."

Unite members were balloted across Whipps Cross University Hospital, Royal London Hospital, St Bartholomew's Hospital and Mile End Hospital.

Phil Mitchell, Serco contract director, said: "We remain disappointed by Unite's actions given everything we have done to improve pay and conditions for our staff at Barts Health NHS Trust in the six months since we began our contract.

"We believe strongly in ensuring our dedicated team are rewarded fairly, which is why we agreed with the trust to pay all our team members a minimum of the London Living Wage from day one.

"This resulted in an increase in pay for over 230 team members and benefited over 110 permanent staff by an average of 3.5%. For those team members on higher salaries, we have offered a pay increase for this year which is in line with that for NHS staff.

"We're determined to ensure that Unite's intended action does not impact on patients and we aim to put robust plans in place to ensure we can continue to support the hospitals to operate as normal during any action."