Barts and Synergy workers embark on next wave of strike action over pay

Hundreds of workers at Barts NHS Trust and contractor Synergy are embarking on a new wave of strike action over the failure of their employer to pay a lump sum payment worth over £1,600.

Nearly 700 Unite members working as porters, cleaners and facilities staff at the largest NHS trust in the UK, are taking further strike action next month as they fight for a lump-sum payment owed to them. Synergy is a sub-contractor at Barts who employs workers cleaning and preparing linen and bedding for patients.

Workers at Barts NHS Trust are to strike from 7-19 May in protest at the failure to pay them the lump-sum payment that other NHS workers were offered for working during the pandemic. 

Unite’s members at the time worked for another outsourcing company Serco before transferring back into the NHS just after the imposed deadline for staff to receive the payment. So far NHS bosses, locally at the trust and at NHS England, have rejected their demands and refused to ask the treasury for additional funding to cover the payment.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “If Barts thinks that our members have given up on this fight they have another thing coming. They have seen their comrades at other trusts rightly win this pay award and there is absolutely no reason for NHS bosses to be continuing to block this payment for our members.”

Unite has been running long-standing campaigns at other NHS Trusts who have similarly initially refused to honour the lump sum payment and has won the £1,655 award for hundreds of outsourced staff at the 2Gether company working for the East Kent NHS Trust. Unite has also won the award for workers at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service Trust and for Mitie workers at hospitals in Dudley.

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: “Our members are some of the lowest paid in the NHS and are struggling to make ends meet amid a cost of living crisis. They turned up and put themselves on the frontline during the pandemic just like every other healthcare professional, yet NHS England is trying to exploit a loophole to deny them the money they are owed. 

“It is absurd that other health workers not directly employed by the NHS have received the payment yet our members are being denied it. This inequality is unacceptable. Barts need to do the right thing and pay our members what they are owed.

“We will continue this fight, escalating the action we will take until our members get what is rightfully theirs.”