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Hospital staff to vote on industrial action over pay row

15:22 10 January 2014

King George Hospital

King George Hospital

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Disgruntled staff at Romford’s Queen’s and King George Hospitals will vote next week on whether to take industrial action over a row about pay.

Queen's Hospital's emergency departmentQueen's Hospital's emergency department

Around 70 members of the union Unite who work in the maintenance departments of the two hospitals will vote on whether to take possible strike action over the coming weeks, in response to a £60 cut in their weekly pay.

One unhappy worker who did not wish to be named, said it was the decision of Sodexo, the contractor used by the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust to manage the facilities.

Staff will no longer be paid the ‘recruitment and retention’ retainer, which amounted to around £3,500 a year.

“The retainer was originally paid by the Hospital Trust as they had trouble keeping staff,” said the disgruntled Unite member.

“When Sodexo took over they decided to stop it and have refused to talk to the unions. The loss of the £3,500 amounts to around £60 a week and effects our pension, hourly rate and hourly overtime rate.

“If the maintenance department goes on strike, a lot of services at the hospitals will be disrupted, including operating theatres. There’s a lot of very strong feelings over this across the two sites.”

A Unite spokesperson said: “Maintenance staff at the Queen’s Hospital and the King George’s Hospital in Romford, members of the Unite union, are in a pay dispute with their employer, Sodexo. We are currently consulting with our members on the next steps.”

A spokesman from Sodexo added: “Sodexo and Unite have met on numerous occasions to discuss the withdrawal of the recruitment and retention payment for estate workers at Queen’s and King George Hospitals. NHS Employers announced in April 2011 there would be a national withdrawal of this payment as from April 2013. Sodexo honoured the two-year pay protection schedule and began consultation with the unions in relation to the payment withdrawal. This is not just happening at Queen’s and King George Hospitals, but was proposed across the whole of the NHS estate whether staff are employed by a private company or the NHS.”

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