Hundreds of key NHS workers, employed by the giant outsourcing company, Serco, will stage a two week strike across Barts Health NHS Trust in "a battle against low pay and exploitation".

Unite members who are cleaners, porters, security, catering and reception staff across St Barts, Royal London Hospital, and Whipps Cross will take strike action beginning on Monday 31 January and ending on Sunday 13 February. Unite has warned that further strike action will follow if the demands of the workers are not met.

The workers roundly rejected Serco’s latest derisory pay offer of just 3 per cent. Especially when inflation (RPI) leapt to 7.5 per cent this week. Serco Group PLC had a turnover of £3.9 billion according to the latest figures available. The mainly Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAEM) staff are paid up to 15 per cent less than directly employed NHS staff. Serco’s offer does nothing to close the pay gap between the outsourced workers and directly employed NHS workers.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "These workers face the same risks as NHS-employed staff but they are paid significantly worse and treated disgracefully. Barts Health NHS Trust have a golden opportunity to bring these workers, employed by Serco not the NHS, back into NHS employment.

“It's time to end the injustice of a two-tier workforce. Unite is 100 per cent behind our members' battle against low pay and exploitation.”

Unite says Barts Health NHS Trust cannot wash its hands of the mess created by allowing Serco to exploit and underpay the workforce. Ultimately Barts Health NHS Trust awarded Serco the contract. Now that Serco have confirmed that the (Soft Services) contract with the Trust will end, Unite is calling on Barts to:

Take the soft services contract in house and swiftly move to transfer the workforce onto Agenda for Change pay, terms and conditions.
Intervene now to ensure Serco improves its pay offer.

Demand an end to Serco's draconian use of the company's sickness and disciplinary policies, bullying by management and unmanageable workloads

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: "Unite gave Serco and Barts over a month to consider their positions before the union announced strike dates. Instead of using that time wisely, they've dragged their feet and offered too little too late.

"Ultimately Barts must take responsibility for this mess. The Trust allowed Serco to exploit and underpay the workforce by outsourcing this contract. Barts and Serco must now deliver a pay increase that addresses the poverty pay and the gross inequality of treatment compared to directly employed NHS staff in other hospitals in London."

ENDSFor more information please contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315

Email: [email protected]

Notes to editors:

Unite is the leading union in the UK and Ireland, dedicated to defending and improving members' jobs, pay and conditions. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.