Around 1,600 NHS cleaners and healthcare assistants employed by outsourcing company Serco staged a protest over pay during a board meeting at a hospital in Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets
Employees working at Barts Health NHS hospitals stopped work to show their anger over their salaries while the company’s board met at Royal London Hospital on May 9.
The protest demanded that Barts and Serco would fund a pay rise in accordance with the pay deal being offered to other NHS employees.
Thousands of low-paid workers in the NHS are being offered a pay rise of over £2,000 a year in cash terms in the first year of a three-year deal. If the offer goes through, NHS workers working within London will get at least £10.83 an hour next year.
Serco employees, currently working for £10.20 an hour, are demanding the same pay increase as other NHS employees, which would match the pay rise of over £2,000 a year.
Unite, the union of the protesting employees, feels that cleaners, porters, security guards and patient caterers employed by Serco, who work to keep these London hospitals safe and clean, deserve a pay increase to match other NHS employees’ pay.
Ruth Hydon, Unite’s regional officer, said: “Over a thousand low paid workers vital to maintaining a clean and safe health service are demanding fair pay and dignity at work. It’s an injustice that health workers employed by Serco, who keep these London hospitals safe and clean, are being offered less than other NHS workers at the same hospitals.
“It’s time to end poverty pay for NHS workers employed by private contractors. Serco workers should get the same increase as their colleagues to help pay for the high cost of housing and transport in London. Workers employed by Serco at Barts are demanding pay justice.”
A Serco spokesperson said: “We value the important contributions of all our employees and agreed with the Trust and the unions at the start of our contract that we would pay at least the London Living Wage at Barts Health NHS Trust, which is a commitment that we continue to meet.”
Barts Health NHS Trust covers Mile End Hospital, Newham University Hospital, The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, St Bartholomew’s Hospital in Smithfield in the City and Whipps Cross University Hospital.