Barts Covid bonus win

Barts Trust domestic and facilities staff celebrate pay justice victory

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Barts Trust staff are celebrating a huge victory for pay justice after workers voted to accept a deal which will see them receive the equivalent of the Covid bonus they fought so long and hard for.

Barts domestic and facilities staff bravely took multiple days of strike action since autumn of last year after they were told they were not eligible for a bonus for working throughout the pandemic, worth more than £1600, because of an absurd technicality.

During the pandemic, these Barts Trust staff were at the time employed by outsourcing firm Serco. Last year, thanks to a Unite campaign, they were brought back into the NHS. But since a phased transfer was agreed, some staff were transferred over to NHS contracts after the arbitrary, imposed March 31 cut-off date for receiving the Covid bonus.

This left these former Serco staff in the totally unfair position where some workers, who happened to be transferred to NHS contracts before the cut-off date, received the bonus, while others – their colleagues from the very same workforce — were told they wouldn’t receive anything.

During the dispute, NHS bosses repeatedly rejected their demands for the bonus and refused to ask the Treasury for additional funding to cover the payment. But thanks to workers’ brave stand and a campaign to put pressure on the Barts board, a deal was finally agreed earlier this month.

Unite rep and Barts hospital domestic assistant Mirela said members were ecstatic about their victory.

“It was a hard fight, but in the end we won, and we got exactly what we were fighting for,” she told UniteLive. “We should have received the bonus a long time ago, but we’re thrilled to be finally recognised for the hard work we did during the pandemic.

“We’re especially grateful for the full support of Unite – they stood by us the whole time and kept encouraging us — because it wasn’t easy.”

Mirela added that throughout the dispute and since their win, more and more staff have approached her to join Unite.

“This victory has really shown the power of being in Unite,” she noted. “It shows that Unite does strong negotiations and gets results.”

Unite rep Maria, also a domestic worker for Barts NHS Trust at Whipps Cross hospital, agreed.

“Every day members are coming to me telling me how happy they are about this win – they’re over the moon,” she said. “They’re also telling me that if any other issues arise, they’re prepared to go out together and fight again. It’s really boosted their confidence.”

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed congratulated staff on their win.

“Our members have battled tooth and nail, inch by inch, to drag Barts back to the negotiating table,” she said. “They should be incredibly proud that their efforts and solidarity have paid off.”

Unite has campaigned and won across numerous trusts over the last year for workers who’ve been similarly denied the Covid lump-sum bonus.

In March, catering, restaurant, patient food services and admin staff employed by outsourcing firm Mitie at hospitals in Dudley, East Midlands, won the Covid lump-sum payment. The win came after a concerted Unite campaign that included strike action. 

This was preceded by another victory in February, when low-paid staff employed by 2Gether Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of East Kent NHS Trust, also won the Covid lump-sum payment after a series of strikes.

By Hajera Blagg