Staff performing the same job are receiving very different pay and conditions in the Greater Manchester Patient Transport Service (PTS)
Some staff in the PTS receive up to £2.40 an hour less pay, fewer breaks and less sick pay than their colleagues – some of whom started in the same role after them.
The staff are all employees of the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and they provide the non-emergency patient transport service.
The service was outsourced to Arriva in April 2013. The privately-run service received a high number of complaints and over-reported its performance standards. The service returned to NWAS in June 2016.
New starters who began while Arriva held the contract were employed on inferior terms and conditions than NHS staff. When NWAS resumed running the PTS they did not bring staff up to NHS standards. Instead, there is now a two-tier workforce with over 100 staff – around a third of the workforce – on worse terms and conditions.
Last year, NWAS recruited new staff to the PTS on NHS terms and conditions. These new starters are paid more than colleagues who have up to five years experience in the role.
UNISON has been pressing NWAS management to level-up terms and conditions to NHS rates, and has now launched a strike ballot.
David Atkinson, UNISON North West Regional Organiser:
“The present situation is ridiculous and untenable. You have colleagues working together on a 10-hour shift, doing the same job, but one can take two breaks and the other just one.
“There are experienced staff getting less pay than colleagues who’ve just started. The only thing they’ve done wrong is to have the misfortune of being hired during the time Arriva held the contract.
“The last thing that our PTS members who are on these contracts want to do is take strike action but they are angry and frustrated by the obvious unfairness they are suffering. We have tried for
18 months now to negotiate with NWAS and they still refuse to harmonise their pay with the rest of the workforce. We genuinely hope that NWAS now accept that this is wrong and that they offer these staff the NHS contract".