Hundreds of key NHS workers, employed by the outsourcing privateer Serco are preparing for an industrial action ballot across Barts Health NHS Trust in a "battle against exploitation and low pay”. Unite is calling for Barts Health NHS Trust to bring these workers back in-house into NHS employment. 

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: "The pandemic has shone a grim light on the injustice of a two-tier workforce. These workers, employed by Serco not the NHS, are exposed to the same risks as NHS-employed staff but they are paid significantly worse and treated disgracefully. 

“It’s high time Barts Health NHS Trust brought these workers back in-house.  Unite is 100 per cent behind them and their battle against low pay and exploitation. Our members have had enough and they are demanding an end to mistreatment.”

The mainly Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAEM) staff, which include cleaners and porters, are paid up to 15 per cent less than directly employed NHS staff. The workers are rightly demanding a significant pay increase. They are also fed up with management bullying and exploitation. The staff are fighting back against the draconian use of the company's sickness and disciplinary policies, bullying by management and unmanageable workloads.

Serco Group PLC had a turnover of £3.9 billion last year but the multinational is offering staff just 1 per cent. Unite has branded the offer an "insult" to the workers who risked their lives at the height of the pandemic and continue to put themselves at risk. 

Unite Regional Officer Tabusam Ahmed said: "It's an absolute scandal and an insult to offer a 1 per cent increase. This amounts to a significant pay cut when the cost of living is on the increase, especially in a city like London. 

"Our members are being treated disgracefully by Serco and are regularly subjected to unmanageable workloads, poor treatment and bullying by managers which must stop now.”

Unite will ballot ancillary staff including cleaners and porters across Royal London Hospital, Whipps Cross and St Barts.