Socialist Worker

NHS strikers in North West tell Compass to pay up

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2666

Strikers formed big picket lines during last week’s walkout

Strikers formed big picket lines during last week’s walkout


Hundreds of health workers across the North West of England struck for equal pay on Wednesday of last week.

The Unison union members are demanding that private contractor Compass pays them the same rates of pay as workers directly employed by the NHS.

The cleaners, porters and other support staff work at Blackpool NHS Teaching Hospitals, St Helens Hospital and Whiston Hospital.

The outsourced workers are paid £8.21 an hour, but work alongside NHS workers in the same roles who earn £9.03 an hour.

Some workers can lose out to the tune of £1,600 a year.

Jean Johnson, a Unison member and catering assistant at Whiston Hospital, said the situation is “just not right”.

“I work with colleagues who do exactly the same job,” she said.

“We all work incredibly hard preparing food for patients and yet some are paid a lot more than me.”

Access

The outsourced workers aren’t just losing out on pay.

They don’t have access to a full package of NHS Agenda for Change terms and conditions, such as unsocial hours’ payments for weekends and bank holidays, or sick pay.

Jean said, “It’s especially bad at the weekends as some colleagues are getting enhancements for working unsociable hours.

“I’d happily do more overtime, but it just seems completely unfair to go in and earn so much less than others.

“I don’t go off sick lightly, but I had an operation and couldn’t go into work for three months. I struggled to pay my bills because I wasn’t receiving full sick pay.”

Outsourced workers at the nearby Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Royal Bolton Hospital won NHS pay rates after a series of strikes in the last year. They showed that strikes can win results.

Every trade unionist should support the Compass workers’ fight for equal pay.


Walkouts for higher wages

Health visitors in Lincolnshire have announced further strikes in their fight for higher pay.

The Unite union members, who have already struck for nine days, plan to hold two 48-hour strikes from 15 August and 19 August.

They were transferred from the NHS pay roll to the local authority in 2017.

But they have not received any pay rises since the move, even though both NHS and local government workers saw modest pay increases last year.

Workers also planned demonstrations in Gainsborough on Wednesday, Lincoln on Thursday and Louth on Friday.


March over NHS cuts

Around 300 people took to the streets of Margate last Saturday against plans to axe three stroke units in Kent.

Protesters rallied outside the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital.

Carly Jeffrey from the Keep Our NHS in Kent campaign group, which organised the protest, said, “This is Thanet’s only hospital.

“Not only is our stroke unit under threat, but we also risk the closure or downgrading of our accident & emergency and maternity units.

“NHS bosses claim that their plan will result in better treatment overall, but our analysis shows this is not to be the case.”


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