Catering staff, cleaners and security guards are among UNISON members striking at Liverpool Women’s Hospital today over their private employer’s refusal to pay them the NHS rates for their jobs.
More than 40 union members are employed by OCS, which supplies contracted out ‘soft facilities’ at the hospital, and delivered a 100% vote in favour of strike action in a formal ballot.
The lowest pay rate for a worker in the NHS is £8.93 per hour, but the OCS staff are paid considerably less than this with some only receiving the minimum legal hourly wage rate of £7.83. Staff are losing out by up to £2,150 this year alone.
Other staff doing the same jobs at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and at other hospitals are being paid the correct nationally agreed pay rates for NHS workers.
A strike over a similar issue was averted at the nearby Walton Centre.
More than 80 staff employed by the company ISS voted to take strike action, but the Walton Centre Trust stepped in to commit to staff that they will receive the NHS rates of pay.
Stephanie Mahoney works as a domestic at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and is paid the minimum wage of £7.83 an hour.
“It’s a real struggle to cope on the wage that I’m on,” she says. “I’m a single parent and I need to keep a roof over my son’s head. Gas and food bills keep going up for everyone but it’s harder for us to make ends meet.
“I sometimes work alongside colleagues who are paid £9 an hour, but we’re doing the same work.
“Colleagues are very supportive of us taking action to get this sorted out because they don’t think it’s right that we’re on lower pay than them.
“I’ve never been on strike before but I can’t see how else this is ever going to change. We’re all sticking together.”