Staff employed by private contractor Engie Services Ltd within Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust will begin strike action next week over their employer’s failure to pay NHS rates.
The security workers, who unanimously voted to take strike action, originally planned to take industrial action on 6 October but a last minute pay offer by Engie averted the strike.
Since then, the security guards’ employer has dragged its feet and has failed to implement the pay deal, leading the UNISON members to schedule strike action for a second time. Unless the issue is resolved swiftly, the hospital workers will be on strike for three days, beginning on Wednesday 6 November.
They work for the multinational outsourcing company at Salford Royal 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 the 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 more than a year, but in the absence of progress, the union asked its security guard members at Salford Royal whether they wished to strike over the issue. The result was that 100% of respondents voted to take industrial action.
UNISON North West regional organiser Amy Barringer said: “Hospital security staff are the unsung heroes of our NHS. They play a crucial role and their role can be exceptionally demanding.
“This incredibly dedicated group of Salford security staff was forced to vote for strike action by an employer that stubbornly refused to deal with this issue.
“Engie belatedly acknowledged this hidden workforce deserved to be paid NHS rates just like their health service colleagues. We had all hoped the issue was resolved and the original strike dates were called off in good faith.
“Since then, Engie has obfuscated and delayed. These staff are no pushovers and are prepared to strike next week to get what they are owed. They have the full support of their UNISON branch and the wider workforce at the Royal.”
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.”