Express & Star

Dudley hospital workers vote almost unanimously for strike action over pay

Around 300 of the lowest-paid workers at hospitals in the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust will strike later this month after they voted almost unanimously in favour.

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Russells Hall Hospital is one of the hospitals where Mitie workers and members of UNISON have voted for strike action

An overwhelming majority of workers – 96 per cent – at Russells Hall Hospital, the Guest Outpatient Centre in Dudley and Corbett Outpatient Centre in Stourbridge voted in favour of strike action, with a turnout in the ballot of 78 per cent. They serve a population of around 450,000 people.

The dispute is partly over the workers being employed by private contractor Mitie instead of directly by the NHS. In June 2023, directly employed NHS workers received a lump-sum “non-consolidated bonus” as part of the NHS pay deal.

For the lowest paid in the NHS, the lump sum was £1,655, but UNISON, which represents the Mitie workers, says the company is refusing to honour this.

UNISON West Midlands regional organiser Ollie Hopkins said: “Nobody working in the NHS wants to take strike action, but it’s the inaction of Mitie that has led to this huge ballot result.

“The huge vote in favour of industrial action shows how unhappy they are at being treated so badly.

“Mitie is a company that makes millions in profit each year. But it has the cheek to tell its low-paid workers in Dudley that they can’t have the money their NHS colleagues have already been given. Patients in Dudley are also outraged at the way staff have been treated.”

UNISON steward and Mitie domestic worker Denise Stevens said: “Mitie can stop the strike action and end the dispute in an instant if they pay us the lump sum that other NHS colleagues all received.

“We too worked through Covid. All we want is to be treated equally and fairly.”

A spokesman for Mitie said: “We’re disappointed that Unison members have voted to take industrial action, given we have kept our colleagues regularly updated that we are still awaiting a response from government on our funding application on non-consolidated pay which is a national issue affecting many trusts and service providers to the NHS across England.

“As always, our priority is to ensure that our services continue to be delivered and we have strong contingencies in place to avoid any disruption to patient care. We’re proud of the hard work and dedication of all our colleagues up and down the UK, including those supporting the NHS.

"We’re an award-winning employer, committed to offering industry-leading benefits to all our colleagues."