Hospital cleaners, catering staff and porters will be among the staff joining a 48-hour strike at Royal Bolton Hospital from 7am on Thursday 11 October, to demand pay parity.
They are employed by a wholly owned subsidiary company of the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, but are not being paid the wage increase that was agreed nationally for NHS workers.
Picket lines are from 7am-6pm both days and there’s a midday strike rally in the town centre on Friday. This strike has our full support and we’re encouraging all supporters to visit the picket lines, even if only briefly, to show your support. A victory for this dispute would be another blow to the discredited outsourcing agenda.
While the lowest-paid staff in other hospitals are receiving nearly £2,000 extra this year – a 10% increase – staff in Bolton who do the same jobs are being offered only 2%.
The staff are employed by Bolton iFM. Last week, the regulator NHS Improvement told NHS trusts in England to stop setting up wholly owned subsidiaries until further guidance is issued.
Some NHS trusts in England are seeking to save money by creating wholly owned subsidiary companies to deliver services, otherwise known as privatisation by the back door. Say No2Subcos!
In a ballot of UNISON members, 97% voted to take strike action, with a turnout of 65%.
“Local health bosses are letting hospital workers down,” said UNISON regional organiser Tim Ellis after the strike dates were announced.
“They are trying to preserve poverty pay rates in Bolton, while workers doing the same jobs in other hospitals are rightly getting significant pay rises.
“The wholly owned subsidiary model is now wholly discredited. The treatment of hospital workers in Bolton shows how unfair it is to divide up the NHS team. All NHS staff should be getting the nationally-agreed pay rise.
“Staff feel that they are being treated unfairly and they are determined to see this through. Health bosses need to act quickly and ensure that hospital staff get the pay rise that they need and deserve.”
The government has made £800m available to fund the agreed Agenda for Change pay rise in England, and trusts can apply to use this money to fund pay rises for staff in their wholly owned subsidiaries, if they apply Agenda for Change terms.
But so far, neither the trust nor iFM has applied for the government funding that could cover the cost of the nationally-agreed pay rise.