UNISON members who transport patients in greater Manchester are being balloted for potential strike action over pay differences which see some of them paid up to £2.40 an hour less, get fewer breaks and receive less sick pay.
Around 100 staff at Greater Manchester Patient Transport Services were hired when the service was outsourced to Arriva between 2013 and 2016, and employed on the inferior terms and conditions.
This means that a third of the services staff are paid less than colleagues who were employed before the service was privatised, or after it was brought back into the public sector – a situation UNISON says is both “ridiculous and untenable”.
UNISON North West regional organiser David Atkinson pointed out: “You have colleagues working together on a 10-hour shift, doing the same job, but one can take two breaks and the other just one.”
The service, which provides non-emergency transport to hospital patients, is now run by the North West Ambulance Service. The NWAS did not do anything about the two-tier workforce when it took over the service in June 2016, though it did recruit new staff in 2017 on NHS terms and conditions.
“We have tried for 18 months now to negotiate with NWAS and they still refuse to harmonise their pay with the rest of the workforce,” said Mr Atkinson.
“We genuinely hope that NWAS now accept that this is wrong and that they offer these staff the NHS contract.”
He added that taking strike action is “the last thing that our PTS members who are on these contracts want to do,” but “they are angry and frustrated by the obvious unfairness they are suffering”.