Health workers in North Devon have overwhelmingly backed strike action in a row over pay, says UNISON today (Wednesday).
Staff employed by Sodexo say they are being denied a pay rise of at least £1,600 that has been paid to other NHS workers. In the ballot, 96% of staff who took part backed strikes if they are not paid fairly.
The industrial action would affect North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.
In June, a deal was agreed for workers on NHS contracts who are on the Agenda for Change pay scales. It included a 5% wage rise for 2023 and a one-off payment of at least £1,600 for the lowest paid for 2022/23.
However, Sodexo has so far refused to honour the one-off bonus element, which UNISON says left workers with no alternative but to ballot for strike action.
The union says Sodexo must stick to the longstanding agreement in place in North Devon. Staff must be treated fairly and given the same money as colleagues employed directly by the NHS.
UNISON South West regional organiser Oliver Foster-Burnell said: “All NHS workers deserve to be paid fairly for the work they do.
“Sodexo’s refusal to pay the NHS bonus has left hospital staff with no alternative but to consider strike action.
“Sodexo had an operating profit of over £70 million, which is up 55% year on year, this is a drop in the ocean compared to their swelling bank account. It’s simply not fair that our hard working and low paid members should be looking to take strike action when Sodexo can give our members what they are entitled to, now.
“It’s not too late for Sodexo to think again and avoid disruption. It should play fair and pay its staff properly.”
Nick Moore, a Porter and UNISON rep at North Devon District Hospital, said: “Staff feel devalued and don’t understand why they’ve been excluded when other NHS organisations have made the payment. We have an agreement with Sodexo to make these payments and they should stick to it.
“Striking is always a last resort, but all we’re asking is to be paid the same as health staff working for the NHS, particularly at a time when everybody’s facing the same pressures over bills and the cost of living.
“Unless Sodexo make this right, we’ll be taking strike action in February.”