‘We have had enough’: Security staff at hospital trust escalate strike action

Hospital security workers are set to go on strike for 10 days from Thursday in a dispute over pay and holiday.

Strike action will take place at two Lambeth hospitals, St Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster Bridge Road and Guy’s Hospital in Great Maze Pond.

The 30 security workers will strike from May 23 until June 2, with the union warning of further strike action if the dispute is not resolved.  

The strike comes after Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust declined to pay a wage increase worth £2,000, the equivalent of 96p per hour, the union Unite said.

A security officer taking part in the strikes, who asked not to be named, said: “Our security management got a pay increase last year, but our salary remains the same, despite our role becoming increasingly more dangerous.

“We never quite know what we are going to get when we come into work and that is incredibly daunting. We deal with everything, from volatile patients to opening and unlocking various hospital departments. It all comes with a great deal of risk, but that is ignored by the trust. We have had enough.”

According to Unite, the security guards – who are paid £10.76 an hour – are among the lowest-paid workers at the hospital.

The workers are paid less than their counterparts at other hospitals in London, including Kings’ College Hospital, where a security officer’s salary starts at £30,000 each year, Unite said.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The trust should be hanging its head in shame.

“It is completely unacceptable that it is exploiting these workers, who play a critical role keeping staff and patients safe, by paying them much less than security staff at other London hospitals. We are backing our members all the way as they escalate their strike action for a fair pay rise.”

The union is also fighting recent proposals from the Trust to impose “extended unpaid breaks” and its “refusal” to calculate holiday allowance based on a 37.5-hour working week. 

The Trust currently calculates holiday allowance based on security workers working 44-hours-a-week, even if they work fewer hours. This means security workers receive fewer holidays, a spokeswoman from Unite said.

Unite regional officer, George Dodo-Williams, said: “Our members have been forced to strike and responsibility for any disruption caused lies entirely at the door of the leaderships’ mismanagement. 

“Industrial action will continue to escalate until the trust puts forward an acceptable offer.”

This latest call for industrial action comes after the security workers went on strike for seven days in March.

A spokesman for Guy’s and St Thomas’ said: “We are disappointed that Unite are continuing with these strikes in the middle of constructive talks. We would urge them to call off this action so we can continue making progress on a fair deal for our highly valued security officers.”

Pictured top: Security workers on strike outside St Thomas’ hospital in March (Picture: Unite the Union)

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