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Strikes will continue if healthcare workers are not paid 'what they are owed', unions say

Further strike action will continue if healthcare workers are not paid a lump sum worth at least £1,655, union bosses have said.

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Unison and Unite have called on private contractor Mitie to pay its workers in hospitals in Dudley 'what they are owed'.

It comes after staff took strike action today following on from a day of action last Friday.

The general secretaries of the UK’s two largest unions have written to Mitie chief executive Phil Bentley to say strikes will continue unless hospital staff get a one-off £1,655 payment.

Cleaners, porters and catering employees are among around 370 workers set to strike again following action which began with Unite in December.

All are contracted by Mitie to work at three hospitals run by The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and the unions say they are among the lowest-paid staff in the NHS.

The letter to Mr Bentley says that the £1,655 lump sum was part of the deal agreed by the Government and health unions last year following strikes in the NHS.

The one-off payment has already been awarded to “hundreds of thousands of NHS employees”.

The letter says many of the staff “worked, alongside their NHS colleagues, throughout the Covid pandemic”, and that Mitie is “treating them unfairly and forcing them into hardship” by withholding the money.

Unison and Unite say the company claims the extra payment is unaffordable.

The letter adds: “If that is the case, then we struggle to see how Mitie could pay the £5.9m remuneration package you (Mr Bentley) received last year, or your annual bonus.

“Mitie can easily afford to pay the lump sum. Its profits were generated from the hard work and dedication of low-paid employees.

"They (the staff) put their own health at risk and that of their families for no additional reward.”

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Health staff would rather be back at work than on the picket line. But Mitie has forced them into taking strike action.

“Mitie must do what’s right and pay up now or the strikes will continue.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham added: “It is shameful that these vital workers who keep the NHS going are being kicked in the teeth by their employer. Mitie is a multi-million-pound company which announced huge profits last year. It can easily afford to pay them the money they are owed."

A spokesman for Mitie previously said it was still awaiting a response from the Government on a funding application to allow them to pay the bonus to contracted staff.