Reading hospital security guards renew strikes in July, as Unite calls on NHS bosses to take them back ‘in-house’
- Tuesday 29 June 2021
NHS bosses should take the security staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading back ‘in house’, after the guards announced new strike dates for July against their outsourced employer Kingdom Services Group Ltd.
Unite the union said the new strike dates would run from 07.00 Monday 12 July until 24.00 Saturday 31 July, after the 20 security guards voted by 84 per cent for strike action.
The guards, who provide security for the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, have been locked in a ‘David and Goliath’ pay and conditions battle with their employer, resulting in a wave of strikes since December last year.
Because of the way that Kingdom Services has treated its staff, Unite is urging the trust to take the security guards back ‘in house’ under NHS management when the current three-year contract ends on 31 December this year.
As the NHS celebrates its 73rd birthday on Monday (5 July), campaigners wishing to keep it out of the hands of profit-hungry companies, such as Kingdom, will be staging a march and rally in Reading on Saturday (3 July), starting at 12.00 from Royal Berkshire Hospital to Forbury Gardens in the town centre where there will be speeches.
Unite regional officer Jesika Parmar said: “The security guards, who have been on the Covid-19 frontline for the last 16 months, voted overwhelmingly for a renewal of strike action as Kingdom Services Group continues to treat them in a shabby way over pay, and health and safety concerns.
“This very strong mandate will see strikes from Monday 12 July until close of play on Saturday 31 July.
“The trust’s management needs to seriously consider whether they wish to continue the contract after December with a profit-hungry outsourced company whose poor employment relations’ record has besmirched the trust’s reputation.
“Now is the time for the trust to jettison the flawed privatisation model of Kingdom Services Group and bring back the security guards ‘in house’ – and from the great support we have received from the Reading community, this is what the public wants as well. That support will again be on show with a march and rally in support of the NHS in Reading on Saturday.”
The reasons for the strike ballot were 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 contrasts the modest nature of the pay demand of the guards with the bulging pockets of the Kingdom Services Group, a major corporate service provider with a £100 million plus turnover.
Notes to editors:
Those wishing to support the Kingdom security guards by signing the petition calling for the management to pay them a fair salary can access via the link:
There is an Eventbrite and Facebook page set up for the Reading event on Saturday.
Nationally, Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, is encouraging its members to support the Keep Our NHS Public events on 3 July which can be found in the link: https://keepournhspublic.com/event/nhs-anniversary-protests-2021/
Unite is seeking a modest pay increase to £12 an hour for security officers and £13.00 an hour for security supervisors.
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.
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.
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.