More than 150 porters, cleaners, switchboard and catering staff employed by Mitie at Cumberland Infirmary in Cumbria are set to begin a 48-hour strike tomorrow over missing payments for working unsocial hours.

Mitie is a London-based outsourcing and energy services company which provides infrastructure consultancy, facilities management, property management, energy and healthcare services.

The outsourced hospital staff have already taken two days of strike action in the past month claiming workers in similar roles employed directly by the NHS receive enhanced rates, such as time-and-a-half and double time for overnight and weekend shifts.

The union said staff employed by Mitie at Cumberland Infirmary haven’t received any additional payments for more 10 years. Unison added it has held extensive talks with Mitie and North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust leading to all parties agreeing the outsourced workers should receive an unsocial hours wage uplift, but neither Mitie nor the trust is willing to make the payments. 

North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust claims it included a substantial sum to cover the unsocial hours wage boost when it agreed contracts for outsourced services in 2010. Mitie denies it has received this funding.

Unison said it wants an investigation into the whereabouts of this funding and offered to withdraw the strike action if Mitie gives a written that guarantee workers will receive unsocial hours payments in the next two months, but the firm refused.

Unison North West regional organiser David Atkinson said: “It’s incredibly disappointing that key workers, who’ve put their lives at risk during the pandemic, have been forced to take strike action yet again to get pay parity. It’s deeply troubling that North Cumbria NHS Trust says it paid a sum to cover unsocial hours payments that weren’t passed on to workers. This must be investigated urgently.

“These health staff are determined to achieve fair treatment. All of this could have been avoided if Mitie just provided a guarantee that workers will receive the unsocial hours payments they deserve.”

Date published: March 25, 2021

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