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System of second class NHS workers in the east of England must end, says UNISON

04 Jun System of second class NHS workers in the east of England must end, says UNISON

Two private companies employing hundreds of NHS staff in the east of England are coming under pressure as UNISON’s campaign for fair pay in the health service escalates.

Workers at contractors Compass Medirest and Mitie are today (Tuesday) calling on company chief executives and NHS bosses to end pay inequality in the health service by giving them the same rates as colleagues employed directly by the NHS.

Last year, the lowest-paid workers in the NHS were given a £2,000 wage rise as part of a three-year deal negotiated by health unions. But tens of thousands of heath staff employed on private contracts did not receive this.

Among the workers losing out are those at Compass Medirest providing domestic services for Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, catering at Southend University Hospital, and Mitie, which has a security contract at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, where domestics are due to start six days of strike action this week against plans to outsource their service.

UNISON warns this is creating a two-tier workforce within the NHS. The growing pay divide makes it more likely staff will either seek new jobs directly employed by health trusts or quit the NHS altogether.

UNISON Eastern region head of health Sasha Pearce said: “Staff who work for private contractors often do the same jobs as colleagues directly employed by the NHS. They experience the same pressures and provide the same level of exceptional service.

“It makes no sense for many of these workers to be on the minimum wage while colleagues still working for the NHS take home much more. Outsourced staff struggling to make ends meet are understandably considering other jobs which won’t leave them so strapped for cash. And this is already having an impact on patient care and the smooth running of the NHS.

“Reluctant employers across the country are facing pressure to pay up, as Sodexo has done recently in Doncaster and OCS has in Liverpool. Staff know fair pay is possible if the contractor and the NHS trust have the will to make it happen. But the government can help too by providing the necessary funds so thousands of outsourced staff can get a long overdue pay rise.

“All hospital workers are part of the NHS team and should be paid fairly for the vital jobs they do. After months and months of ignoring staff, it’s time Compass Medirest and Mitie paid up.”