Security guards at Reading hospital to be balloted again for strike action in ‘David and Goliath’ pay battle
- Wednesday 21 April 2021
Security staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, locked in the long-running ‘David and Goliath’ pay and conditions battle with their employer, are to be balloted again for strike action.
The ballot of the 20 members, who are employed by Kingdom Services Group Ltd to provide security for the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, will open on Tuesday (27 April). It closes on Thursday 13 May.
Unite said that the easiest way to settle this dispute, which has seen a wave of strikes from December 2020 to early March, is for the security guards to be brought back ‘in house’ under NHS management.
Unite also reminded Kingdom Services’ bosses of their obligations, under new guidance issued by NHS Improvement this month, regarding Covid-19, risk assessment and testing, as well as full-pay for those who have to self-isolate.
The reasons for the new ballot are the failure of the company to meaningfully negotiate a decent pay offer for 2020; failure to take health and safety concerns seriously; and the refusal to discuss on sick pay relating to health and safety and to address the disparity in sick pay between colleagues.
Unite regional officer Jesika Parmar said: “Our members are being balloted again in the truly a ‘‘David and Goliath’ struggle by a group of lowly paid workers against a massive corporate with deep pockets.
“Our members have provided security 24/7 at the Royal Berkshire Hospital during the pandemic – yet have been treated shabbily by their employer.
“The bosses brought in agency staff to unsuccessfully try to break our members’ steadfast resolve which is yet more evidence of their unsuitability to keep hold of this contract.
“The best way forward would be for the trust management to do the sensible thing and take back the security guards ‘in-house’.
“We are seeking a modest pay increase to £12 an hour for security officers and £13.00 an hour for security supervisors, but standing in the way of this reasonable demand for a living wage is a management, which is part of a global organisation with a £100 million turnover.
“The company has refused to budge on its paltry pay offer which would see security officers on £9.30 an hour and supervisors on £10.30 an hour and continues to avoid meaningful talks over the 2020 pay award.”
Unite contrasts the modest nature of the pay demand of the guards on the Covid-19 NHS frontline with the bulging pockets of the Kingdom Services Group, a major corporate service provider with a £100 million plus turnover.
Notes to editors:
Those working for the NHS and members of the general public can sign the online petition supporting the security guards below:
The company’s website states: ‘Kingdom is one of the largest, independent and privately owned companies specialising in security solutions, facilities management, environmental protection and recruitment within the UK, Ireland and South Asia. We operate on a £100 million+ turnover.’
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065.
Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.