Bolton NHS Trust wanted to shortchange the Royal Bolton’s 600 hospital cleaners, porters and catering staff and create an underclass paid less than the NHS rate for the job. It planned to carry off this swindle via its wholly-owned shell company, ‘Bolton iFM’, which on paper is the employer. By this sleight of hand the NHS Trust hoped to evade its duty to pay its staff in line with nationally agreed 3-year pay deal for NHS workers, even though the ‘Bolton iFM’ puppet company itself promised in 2017 to pay the NHS rates in full to all staff.
The workers rightly rejected a slightly less-bad offer, based on the subsistence level calculated by the Living Wage Foundation. This rise would still have left hourly pay stranded below the lowest possible NHS pay rate, treating workers as second-class citizens forced to fight for crumbs instead of enjoying parity of esteem with their fellow workers within the NHS.
This divide and rule stunt was challenged by hospital workers at the Royal Bolton after a packed meeting of Unison members voted to reject the bosses’ derisory offer and go ahead with a 48-hour strike beginning at 7am on Thursday 11 October. The strike went ahead and the employer caved in and agreed the pay rise which will be back-dated to April 2018, and will be worth some £2,000 this year for the lowest paid, rising to over £4,000 a year for full-time staff by 2020.
Such strikes should be supported by all who hold the NHS dear and don’t want to see the people who keep it going treated like dirt, whilst Trust potentates like CEO Dr Jackie Bene merrily rake in £130,000 a year or more.