Underpaid employees of Compass, a private health contractor, began two days of strike action in Blackpool today. Blackpool NHS Teaching Hospitals, St Helens Hospital and Whiston Hospital will all be affected.
Strikers are calling for pay parity with NHS colleagues. The cleaners, caterers, porters, receptionists and security staff employed by Compass are paid the minimum wage of £8.21 per hour, whilst colleagues employed by the NHS are paid an hourly minimum of £9.03.
The difference of 82p an hour is worth £1,600 a year for full-time staff.
In addition to being underpaid, Compass staff also lose out on shift bonuses for working on weekends and bank holidays, and only receive statutory sick pay whereas NHS workers have a comprehensive sick pay scheme.
UNISON North West regional organiser Lisa Oxbury told the Blackpool Gazette: “These dedicated NHS workers simply want to be part of the health service team, with fair pay and treatment. Our cleaners, caterers, porters, reception and security staff make a huge contribution to the NHS.
“They deserve the NHS rate for the job, enhancements for unsociable hours and a health service sick pay scheme.”
This is the second round of industrial action for Compass staff in Blackpool, following a day’s strike on 31 July. Negotiations between UNISON representatives and Compass have since soured after Compass offered a paltry £80 backpay to underpaid workers in St Helens and Whiston Hospitals.
On the day of the July strike, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis stated: “Compass made £1.7bn in profit last year alone, so we refuse to accept its claim that it can’t afford an 82p pay rise for its lowest paid NHS staff.”
Compass boss Dominic Blakemore was paid £4.6 million last year.