Why is this important?
We have worked on the frontline as porters, cleaners, switchboard and catering staff at Cumberland Infirmary during this pandemic. We have put ourselves at risk to serve patients meals, clean wards- keeping them safe from infection and do the jobs which allow nurses and doctors to deliver vital care.
We have frequently worked weekends and night shifts- spending time away from our families- as we often have to working in an NHS hospital. Our colleagues who are employed by the National Health Service receive enhancement payments for working these unsocial hours.
This extra money was agreed over a decade ago as part of the NHS Agenda for Change pay deal. It includes enhanced rates – such as time-and-a-half and double time – for working at the weekends or through the night.
We have discovered that our employer Mitie has failed to pay us enhancements for unsocial hours for over ten years. We are thousands of pounds out of pocket compared to our colleagues who do the same jobs within the NHS. We are ONE NHS- why should we be paid less than colleagues doing exactly the same jobs?
Our employer Mitie has repeatedly claimed that it has never received funding to pay us unsocial hours payments. But North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust (NCIC) claim that they handed over a “substantial sum” to Health Management Carlisle- the investment firm which owns the hospital- many years ago.
Worryingly, Health Management Carlisle has denied ever receiving any payments from the Trust relating to unsocial hours payments. We don't know who has the money, but we do know that we have been short changed for over ten years.
This would be a bitter pill to swallow at any time but we are even more upset to learn of our underpayment as we are giving everything to keep people safe during this pandemic. Where is our money Mitie?
UNISON North West Regional Organiser David Atkinson said: “Mitie members have worked on the front-line throughout the pandemic keeping the Cumberland Infirmary running.
“Whilst they have risked their own lives - they have not received any of the unsocial hours payments we believe they deserve for working away from their families overnight and at the weekend – payments made to all other staff working at the hospital.
“Meanwhile, Mitie, NCIC and Health Management Carlisle have been pointing the finger at each other. I want to make it clear, I am not interested in who has the money, or where it has been for the last ten years – all I want is for this pay inequity at the hospital to end now.
“It is simply unacceptable to treat front-line health workers, who are the lowest paid at the hospital, in this way. Cleaners, porters, caterers and switchboard staff are coming together in their union UNISON to say enough is enough - and they are determined to secure the pay they deserve.
“We call on Mitie, Health Management Carlisle and NCIC to find a solution to this mess.”
What action have we taken?
Porters, cleaners, switchboard and catering staff employed by Mitie at Cumberland Infirmary voted in favour of taking strike action over missing payments for working unsocial hours. The ballot opened on 5 November and ran until 26 November.
We took 2 days of strike action on Friday 26 February and Monday 1 March, 2 more days of strike action on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 March and a further 3 days of strike action on Friday 23, Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 April.
How can you help?
Donate to the hardship fund- please donate via bank transfer to Unity Bank, 60-83-01, 20330637 or please send a cheque payable to UNISON Cumbria and North Lancashire Health Hardship Fund and post to UNISON Resource Centre, 6 Spencer Street, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA1 1BG.
Please print this message of support and take a picture of yourself holding it to show your support for the strikers, then share it on social media. If you don't have a printer, you can load the picture onto your phone like this.
Sign the petition here: https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/onenhs-where-is-our-money-interserve
Post messages of support on social media: please tag @mitie and @NorthWestUNISON. Use hashtags #ONENHS #MitieUnfair and #PayUpMitie.
Write to Mitie CEO Phil Bentley: https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/write-to-mitie-pay-us-what-you-owe
Thanks for your support.
#KeepYourPayPromise We Are With You!
Why did we strike?
Belinda Phipps is CEO of We Are With You- she earns around £140,000 per year. Meanwhile, ex-NHS staff working for We Are With You in Wigan and Leigh were losing out on £150,000 during the course of the NHS Agenda for Change three year pay deal (April 2018- April 2021).
We were losing an average of £7,870 each during the course of Wigan Council's contract with We Are With You, with some of us losing out on as much as £10,974.
This was simply wrong and across five years, would suck £230,000 out of the local economy whilst We Are With You directs funding towards costly rebrands and its London headquarters.
We work hard for We Are With You in Wigan and Leigh to ensure that local people recover from addiction, regaining health, self esteem and becoming fully functioning members of our society.
We work in this field because we care and because it's rewarding to support recovery, but we deserve to make a decent living.
When we transferred over to We Are With You (formerly known as Addaction) from the NHS, we were promised the NHS rate for the job, but We Are With You went back on their word.
"Supporting people to overcome drug and alcohol addiction is an incredibly tough job and makes a difference for every single one of us in Wigan.
"We Are With You’s employees deserve the pay settlement they were promised when they moved from the NHS to We Are With You". Lisa Nandy, Wigan MP
We deserve a decent wage for doing what is an important job for our communities.
#WeAreNotWithYou #KeepYourPayPromise #BelindaFibs #WeWontPayYou
What action did we take?
We took one day of strike action on Friday 23 August 2019 followed by two days of strike action beginning on Wednesday 11 September, then three days of strike action beginning on Wednesday 9 October, and then two periods of five days action beginning on Monday 4 November and then Thursday 27 February 2020. We then took ten days of strike action which began on Monday 21 September 2020. We took a total of twenty six days of strike action and had scheduled in a four week strike to begin in November 2020.
What was the outcome?
We secured a no detriment payment that matches the NHS Agenda for Change three year pay deal which runs from April 2018 to April 2021, meaning that we each received several thousand pounds worth of back pay. In addition, we have negotiated a further year of protection which will ensure that we will not be paid below the current NHS rates until April 2022.
We also won a battle to force We Are With You to recognise UNISON as our trade union.