Serco staff at Barts Health NHS Trust strike over pay dispute

Members of trade union Unite who work for public services organisation Serco and are based at hospitals within Barts Health NHS Trust are taking strike action in a dispute over pay.

Cleaners, domestic staff, porters, and security staff based across four London hospitals in the Barts Health NHS Trust began 48 hours of strike action yesterday (Tuesday 4 July 2017) after 99% of Unite members who took part in the strike ballot voted in favour of strike action.

The dispute revolves around a proposed pay increase. Unite members employed by Serco are seeking a £0.30 an hour wage increase.

Serco invited Unite to negotiations with conciliation and arbitration service Acas on 28 June 2017, but the trade union claims that Serco failed to bring a new proposal to the discussions.

The strike involves Serco staff at Mile End Hospital, Royal London Hospital, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, and Whipps Cross University Hospital. The current strike action will end at 6am on Thursday 6 July.

Serco staff who are members of Unite are also planning a seven-day strike starting on Tuesday 11 July, followed by a two-week strike from Tuesday 25 July. Further strike action will also be planned for August and September.

Phil Mitchell, contract director at Serco, said: “We believe strongly in ensuring our dedicated team are rewarded fairly, which is why we agreed with the Trust to pay all our team members a minimum of the London living wage from day one. This resulted in an increase in pay for over 230 team members and benefited over 110 permanent staff by an average of 3.5%. For those team members on higher salaries, we have offered a pay increase for this year which is in line with that for NHS staff.

We are determined to ensure that Unites action does not impact on patients. We have robust plans in place aimed at ensuring we can continue to support the Trust’s hospitals to operate as normal during the planned action.”

Gloria Sindall, regional officer at Unite, said: “[Employees] across four London hospitals will be taking strike action this week in a battle against low pay. Cleaners, porters and security staff have seen their real living standards drop year on year.

“Workers are now demanding a 30p per hour wage increase. Serco made over £80 million in profit last year but managers are refusing to share these earnings fairly and protect the living standards of the workers.

“Rather than try to settle this dispute the private contractor Serco wasted valuable time by offering absolutely nothing new for the workforce at talks with Acas last week. Unite members are fed up and are preparing for a series of strikes to demand a fair and proper pay rise which recognises the contribution they make to Serco and to Barts.”

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A spokesperson at Barts Health NHS Trust added: “We have been working closely with both sides to find a resolution to this dispute, urging them to seek a solution through the mediation service Acas.

“Contingency plans are in place to minimise any disruption to staff and patients at our hospitals. All patient care at each of our hospitals will continue and we advise patients to attend their hospital appointments as normal.”