Sterilisation staff win pay rise after two-month dispute

Welsh health board offers increases of up to £1,900 a year after strike by staff paid less than colleagues working for neighbouring boards

Workers in the sterilisation and disinfection units at three Welsh hospitals have won pay rises of up to £1,900, after a two-month industrial dispute by UNISON.

Staff at the Morriston, Neath Port Talbot and Princess of Wales hospitals were paid less than people doing exactly the same job at neighbouring health boards.

The workers, employed by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, were between £466 and £1,879 worse off a year, depending on their length of service in the post.

That led to a day’s strike action in January and now the board has come forward with proposals to increase pay, which union members have accepted.

UNISON says the improved pay award is a powerful example of what ‘people power’ can achieve, with organiser Mark Turner saying it means “a significant increase in pay for the overwhelming majority”.

He added that “these healthcare workers just wanted to be paid what they deserve.

“We were able to show that they were paid far less than peers doing exactly the same job with the same responsibilities elsewhere in Wales.

“In general, we work well in partnership with the health board but in this case, hospital workers were exasperated at senior executives’ stalling tactics during more than two years of discussions.

“The employees’ determination to take strike action forced the board to pay them what is rightfully theirs.

“This is a great advert for why everyone should belong to a trade union. Working collectively, we can improve your working conditions.”

Fiona Isaac, a union representative at the Morriston hospital said: “I want to say a big thank you and congratulate everyone in the sterilisation and disinfection units.

“We have demonstrated that you don’t have to accept something when an employer is in the wrong. You can challenge it and by standing together, win.”

UNISON says it now looks forward to a new and positive working relationship with the health board.