Staff employed by private contractor Engie Services Ltd within Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust have unanimously voted to take strike action over their employer’s failure to pay NHS rates.
They work for the multinational outsourcing company as security guards and some are paid only the minimum wage rate of £8.21 an hour.
The lowest rate for staff employed directly by the NHS is £9.03 an hour and the difference of 82p an hour is worth £1,500 a year for full-time staff.
Even security guards paid more than the minimum wage earn considerably less than NHS pay rates and have worse working conditions than other staff they work alongside within the Trust.
UNISON has been trying to resolve this issue for over a year, but in the absence of progress, the union asked its security guard members at Salford Royal whether they wished to go on strike over the issue. The result was that 100% of respondents voted to take industrial action.
Ariel Luszcz, a UNISON rep and health care assistant working in accident and emergency, said: “It is sad but true that as clinicians we could not cope in A&E without the support and protection that our onsite security staff give us. They are a vital part of the team.
“It is so unfair that they are not paid NHS Agenda for Change rates, and are singled out to earn less than other staff members. They support us every day and night - we must now support them in their fight for fair pay.”
UNISON North West regional organiser Amy Barringer said: “Security staff put themselves in danger to keep patients and staff safe. They play a fundamental role within our health service and their role can be incredibly challenging.
“This hidden workforce is being treated as second-class citizens – working within hospitals but not being considered part of the NHS. It’s time for this to end.
“Even amongst the group of Engie staff at Salford Royal, there are several different pay rates for security staff who do the same work. The simple solution to this issue is to bring all security staff on to the NHS Agenda for Change pay rate.
“We’ve tried to resolve this issue through negotiation, but the lack of movement by Engie has been frustrating. The 100% mandate for strike action shows how strongly these dedicated hospital staff feel about this issue.
“Engie must put hands into pockets and do the right thing before hospital security staff are forced to take strike action.”