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Bolton NHS hospital workers celebrate huge pay victory

Guest article from The Salford Star:

Bolton Royal Hospital workers are celebrating a massive victory after taking two days of strike action over pay parity in the NHS earlier this month, supported by Salford UNISON and many other trade unionists.

The workers, who include cleaners, catering staff, porters and security staff, are employed by Bolton NHS Trust’s subsidiary company iFM, doing the same jobs as other NHS workers but were offered pay at a lesser rate. Now they have won an increase in line with other NHS workers, backdated to last April.

Some of the lowest paid workers in the North West have shown the way for other trade unionists in gaining a massive victory on pay in their battle with Bolton NHS Trust.

The workers, including cleaners, catering staff, porters and security staff, are employed by Bolton NHS Trust subsidiary company, iFM, and were offered less than nationally agreed pay rates, even though they do the same job as those working at Salford Royal Hospital and other hospitals. They were expected to work for less money than their counterparts and took two days of strike action earlier this month in their fight for pay parity.

They were supported on the picket lines by Salford City UNISON, Bolton UNISON and other trade unionists, and were due to take three further days of industrial action this week. However, iFM has now agreed to give them the full NHS pay rates, which will see their minimum wage rate increase from £7.83 to £8.95 immediately, and reach £9.92 by the end of 2020.

The pay rise will be back-dated to April 2018, and will be worth some £2,000 this year for the lowest paid, rising to over £4,000 a year for full-time staff by 2020.

“We all work in the NHS” says Vicky, a cleaner at Royal Bolton Hospital and UNISON rep “It is only right that we will all be on NHS pay. We are no longer invisible. We are strong and proud. We stuck together and we won!”

Tim Ellis, UNISON North West Regional Organiser explains: “The staff had to fight to get the pay rise they were due and that they had been promised. This is a great result and it has been achieved by the unity and determination of the hospital workers.

“The campaign for fair pay in Bolton has been widely supported – by MPs, by the public, and by hospital staff not directly involved in the dispute” he adds “Everyone has acted in unison to ensure that all hospital workers will be paid the NHS rate for the job.”

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, underlines the sentiments: “The victory in Bolton should send a strong signal to any NHS trusts who think creating a wholly owned subsidiary will allow them to short change their staff over pay. Anyone who provides a service to the NHS should get the same wages rises as the health colleagues they work alongside.

“The hospital workers employed by iFM do work that’s at the heart of the NHS” he adds “The move by iFM to try to deny them their share of the national NHS pay deal was quite simply immoral. But the employer wasn’t banking on the determination and solidarity of UNISON members in Bolton, who have been unflinching in their stand for fair pay.”

 

First published in The Salford Star 22 October 2018

For a full background see previous Salford Star article – click here

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