Cleaning, laundry and catering staff at Fazakerley Hospital, on Merseyside, held a one-day strike this week. They are fighting against two-tier working — in which workers whose jobs have been privatised earn less than those directly employed by the NHS.
Members of the T&G, GMB and Unison unions, representing about 500 workers, took action starting at midnight last Sunday. They plan to strike for two days this weekend. Over 40 workers were on the picket line.
The workers are employed by Initial Hospital Services, a private contractor, and earn the national minimum wage of £4.85 an hour. Colleagues who are directly employed by the NHS earn £6.06 an hour, a rate agreed by the recent Agenda for Change deal on health workers’ pay and conditions.
One of the workers on the picket line said, “People have been boiling with anger — and now the bubble has burst. We can’t take this any more.”
Health unions are pledged to fight two-tier working. T&G regional industrial organiser, Donna Bernard, said, “It cannot be right that those who are employed by the contractors get about three quarters of the pay as their NHS colleagues for doing the same work.”
The striking workers cheered as messages of support were read out from T&G members at Wirral hospital, workers at Liverpool Royal hospital, Liverpool Unison mental health branch and local PCS members in the department for work and pensions.