Mitie must pay healthcare workers what they are owed or strikes will continue, say UNISON and Unite

Staff will strike for second time today over failure to honour NHS lump-sum payment

Mitie chief executive Phil Bentley must pay healthcare workers in the West Midlands the lump sum they are owed, say UNISON and Unite today (Thursday).

The general secretaries of the UK’s two largest unions have written to Mr Bentley to say strikes* planned for today (Thursday) from 5am and next Friday (8 March) will go ahead unless hospital staff get a one-off £1,655 payment** that other NHS staff have already received.

Cleaners, porters and catering employees are among around 370 workers set to strike again following action which began with Unite in December.

All are contracted by Mitie to work at three hospitals run by The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and are among the lowest-paid staff in the NHS.

The letter to Mr Bentley says that the £1,655 lump sum was part of the deal agreed by the government and health unions last year following strikes in the NHS. The one-off payment has already been awarded to “hundreds of thousands of NHS employees”.

The letter says many of the staff “worked, alongside their NHS colleagues, throughout the Covid pandemic”, and that Mitie is “treating them unfairly and forcing them into hardship” by withholding the money.

UNISON and Unite say the company claims the extra payment is unaffordable. The letter adds: “If that is the case, then we struggle to see how Mitie could pay the £5.9m remuneration package you (Mr Bentley) received last year, or your annual bonus.

“Mitie can easily afford to pay the lump sum. Its profits were generated from the hard work and dedication of low-paid employees. They (the staff) put their own health at risk and that of their families for no additional reward.”

Mitie is attempting to break the strikes by bussing in staff represented by the Prison Officers’ Association from other NHS sites, which the unions say is “despicable”.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Health staff would rather be back at work than on the picket line. But Mitie has forced them into taking strike action.

“The company says it hasn’t got the money to pay this lump sum. Yet it can find the cash to spend on bringing in strike-breaking workers from sites miles away.

“Mitie must do what’s right and pay up now or the strikes will continue.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is shameful that these vital workers who keep the NHS going are being kicked in the teeth by their employer. Mitie is a multi-million-pound company which announced huge profits last year. It can easily afford to pay them the money they are owed.

“Instead, Mitie has dragged its feet every step of the way and forced some of the lowest-paid workers in the NHS onto the picket line in their fight for fair pay. They will have Unite’s full backing.”

Notes to editors:
– *A picket will in place outside the entrance to Russells Hall Hospital, Pensnett Road/High Street, Dudley from 8am to noon today. Photographs will be available on request.
-​ **In June 2023, a deal was agreed for all staff on NHS contracts who are on Agenda for Change pay scales. This included a one-off payment for 2022/23.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
– Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.

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