"We just want fair pay for what we do. We work really, really hard and we're on poverty pay, it's not good enough..." Andrea, domestic at Bolton Hospital
This morning, members of Salford City UNISON joined the picket lines at Royal Bolton Hospital, where cleaners, catering staff, porters and security staff are taking industrial action for 48 hours in response to a totally unfair pay deal being offered by Bolton NHS Trust.
The workers are employed by iFM Bolton, a controversial wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bolton NHS Trust, which has offered less than nationally agreed pay rates. These workers do the same job as those working at Salford Royal Hospital and other hospitals yet are expected to work for less money than their counterparts.
"This is a very simple matter of fairness" said Kevin Lucas, UNISON North West Regional Manager "Bolton's hospital workers deserve to be paid the NHS rate for the important jobs that they do. Why should they receive less than people doing the same jobs in neighbouring hospitals?
"iFM Bolton managers made a promise to their staff that they would pay the NHS rates. They just need to fulfil that promise" he added "It's outrageous that health bosses in Bolton are trying to cut back on the wages of the lowest-paid staff in the NHS."
Andrea Lee, a domestic from Salford working at Bolton Hospital told the Salford Star: "We just want fair pay for what we do. We work really, really hard and we're on poverty pay, it's not good enough and they won't budge. It's as a simple as that.
"People are working so hard coming in every day for poverty pay and we're worth a lot more" she added "It's disgusting. They've offered us 2% which takes us up to £7.99 an hour and then a little bit more. We just want an agenda for change and decent pay. We've got support from the entire hospital staff and the public, and it's been amazing."
Domestic, Shirley Jones-Hurst underlined the sentiments..."We need the same pay as the NHS staff" she explained "We're on poverty pay at the moment and we work damn hard. You don't see a lot of workers in the NHS go on their hands and knees; we domestics are always on our hands and knees. And we'll fight to the end."
The current 48 hour strike began this morning at 7am and if management doesn't meet the demands, there'll be a further three day strike between 23rd and 25th October.
"It's disgraceful that, despite providing NHS services to NHS patients, they are not receiving NHS pay awards, and that two tier workforce should not exist" said Steven North branch secretary of Salford City UNISON who was on the picket line this morning.
"I'm here to support the dispute and to make sure that the company they are working for, iFM, honours the pay awards that they should be entitled to, and that the Bolton NHS Trust listens to these workers in a way that it's not doing at the moment" he added "The scandal of it is that depending on which trust you work for will depend on this pay award. But I think everyone understands the NHS as the 'National' Health Service and there shouldn't be different rules for different people depending on where they work.
"So it's a disgrace that staff in Bolton aren't getting the same pay awards as staff in Salford or Manchester or other areas" he said "And I'm really proud that UNISON North West is fighting against this treatment and challenging privatisation of the NHS."