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HUNDREDS of contracted health workers in north-west England went on strike today for equal pay.
Caterers and cleaners employed by private contractor Compass at Whiston Hospital, St Helens Hospital and Blackpool Victoria Hospital are taking industrial action over the company’s failure to match NHS pay rates and working conditions.
Most of Compass’s workers are on the minimum wage of £8.21 an hour, while colleagues directly employed by the NHS earn £9.03.
For full-time staff, this 82p difference is worth about £1,500 a year.
Contracted workers also have no shift bonuses for working weekends or bank holidays and only receive statutory sick pay, while their NHS colleagues benefit from a full sick-pay scheme.
This is the fourth series of strikes since the workers, who are Unison members, first took industrial action in July.
Earlier this week, the union expressed concerns that Compass has not carried out the necessary criminal record checks while recruiting scab labour to cover shifts in St Helens.
Sources told Unison that Compass managers had said they did not need to contact the Disclosure and Barring Service in respect of these workers, even though such checks are normally necessary for hospital staff.
Since that information was released, Compass has set its Twitter page to “protected,” meaning that the public cannot see what the firm posts.
Unison regional organiser Pat Woolham said: “Compass made over £1.5 billion profit last year and all its existing staff are asking for is to be paid the same as their NHS colleagues.
“This multinational company clearly has no regard for local people.
“It’s time for the trust to stand up to them before it’s too late.”
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