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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 October 2019

End low pay - support Salford Royal security workers' action

Hope Building, Salford Royal Hospital

Hope Building, Salford Royal Hospital   (Click to enlarge)

Outsourced security staff in Salford Royal - an outstanding NHS hospital - have voted for strike action with a 100% turnout and 100% yes vote in a ballot!

This follows over a year of failed negotiations to gain parity in pay and terms and conditions with their colleagues.

The security staff are employed by Engie Services under a private finance initiative agreement with the hospital's foundation trust, and are on terms far below the NHS national 'Agenda for Change' conditions that other NHS workers enjoy.

Some workers are on the minimum wage rate of 8.21 an hour, whereas the lowest NHS rate is 9.03 an hour; a difference amounting to 1,500 a year.

The security guards say: "We don't take this action lightly but have been left with no choice." Security staff in all NHS hospitals provide a safe working environment for NHS staff, patients and visitors, yet many are earning minimum wage.

This stark example shows how the influx of private companies, pushing their snouts into NHS resources in order to boost their own profits, creates a two-tier workforce - an avenue for them to divide workers and to drive down pay and conditions. But NHS staff are saying 'no'.

Recent activities to generate support for these vital workers have been strong. An accident and emergency healthcare assistant, quoted on the security guards' leaflet about their action, said "they support us every day and every night and we must now support them in their fight for fair pay!"

While negotiations are ongoing the strike dates are set for 6 and 7 October - with pickets at Salford Royal, Eccles Old Road, Salford, starting at 6am each day. Messages of support to the Engie security guards to: unison@srft.nhs.uk.

Richard Griffiths, Manchester and Salford Socialist Party

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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