Trade union Unite has secured a crucial victory in the industrial dispute with NHS outsourcing company 2Gether Support Solutions.
Staff from 2gether Support Solutions, who provide services including catering, cleaning and portering in hospitals including QEQM at Margate, took taking industrial action in December and again this year in a dispute over a covid payment.
NHS staff were awarded a sum of at least £1,655 after a government agreement last May to recognise the pressures on staff who worked through the covid pandemic.
But 2gether staff, comprising of roles in housekeeping, catering, portering and maintenance at hospitals, did not receive any payment. 2gether Support Solutions is a subsidiary firm owned by East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust (EKHUFT).
However, following the latest walk out Unite has confirmed that the workers will now receive the bonus.
A Unite statement says: “Due to the actions of Unite members, 2Gether (a wholly owned subsidiary of the East Kent NHS Trust) will now pay hundreds of staff the lump sum payment – over £1,600 – for working during the pandemic.
“Unlike most NHS workers who received the Covid payment last year the workers at 2Gether had previously been denied the payment as they aren’t officially direct employees of the NHS.
“Unite members at 2Gether had been taking industrial action since before Christmas due to the failure of their employer to pay the lump sum payment. Staff at 2Gether are responsible for the Estates, Facilities, Domestics, Housekeepers, and Catering departments.
“Many of these staff are among the lowest paid in the NHS earning as little as £11.45 per hour.
“During the dispute, Unite recruited hundreds more members who were determined to use the power of a union to help overcome an intransigent employer.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham added: “This has been a prolonged dispute for our members to secure the payment they were rightfully owed. This shows the power of a union and should be a wake-up call for other trusts and providers in the NHS who are refusing to make similar payments. We will fight you and we will win.”
Unite regional officer Kushi Hussein added: “Our members should be congratulated on their determination to fight for this award. They were fully entitled to it and East Kent NHS should be ashamed that their own staff had to resort to strike action to get the money they were owed.”