Outsourced health workers in Liverpool took to the picket line on Monday in their fight for equal pay.
The 40 cleaners, porters and other support staff work for multinational OCS. The Unison union members at Liverpool Women’s Hospital are demanding the same rate of pay as workers employed directly by the NHS.
Stephanie Mahoney, a Unison member and domestic, said it was difficult to get by on the minimum wage of just £7.83 an hour.
“It’s a real struggle to cope on the wage that I’m on,” she explained.
“I’m a single parent and I need to keep a roof over my son’s head. Gas and food bills keep going up for everyone, but it’s harder for us to make ends meet.”
She added, “I sometimes work alongside colleagues who are paid £9 an hour, but we’re doing the same work.”
OCS staff are not on the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales—where the lowest rate is £8.93 an hour.
This means some of them are up to £2,150 a year worse off than workers who are doing similar jobs but directly employed by the NHS.
Maria Moss, Unison’s north west regional organiser, said, “OCS is a profitable global business and they should pay all their staff at Liverpool Women’s Hospital the NHS rate for the job.”
Nurses, midwives and other hospital workers joined the OCS strikers on the picket lines before their shifts began in the morning.
Stephanie said, “Colleagues are very supportive of us taking action to get this sorted out because they don’t think it is right that we’re on lower pay than them.”
Pressure has forced some outsourced companies at other hospitals to sign up to AfC pay and terms and conditions.
A two-day strike by Unison members made bosses pay up at the Royal Bolton Hospital, Greater Manchester, last October.
They worked for “wholly?owned subsidiarity” iFM Bolton Ltd, a privately?registered company owned by the NHS trust. Workers at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital showed that they are determined to fight when they voted by 100 percent for strikes.
As Stephanie said, “I’ve never been on strike before but I can’t see how else this is ever going to change. We’re all sticking together.”
Every trade unionist should support their fight for equal pay.