Low paid East Kent Hospitals workers ballot for strike

Staff employed by 2Gether private contractor offered ‘significant pay cut presented as a rise’

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Nearly 200 low paid East Kent Hospitals staff, employed by private contractor 2Gether, are being balloted for strike action over pay, Unite said today (December 1).

2Gether is a wholly owned subsidiary of East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and made £2m profits in 2021.

The workers are being offered a pay rise of around four per cent, the same offer imposed on directly employed NHS staff nationally, thousands of whom are also currently being balloted for strike action. With the current rate of inflation, RPI, at 14.2 per cent, this is a significant real terms pay cut.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Our members at 2Gether are struggling to make ends meet. But the company is refusing to give these low paid workers a pay rise that reflects rocketing prices, despite being able to afford to. This is not acceptable to Unite – 2Gether must come back with an offer our members can accept.”

The workers perform roles in housekeeping, catering and maintenance at hospitals in Ashford, Canterbury, Margate, Folkestone and Dover. Most are paid little more than the minimum wage.

The ballot for strike action at 2Gether closes on December 22.

Unite regional officer Kushi Hussain said, “Although they have been outsourced, 2Gether’s workers put themselves and their families at risk during the pandemic to ensure people of Kent had healthcare. Like other NHS workers they are now being thrown under the bus and being asked to take a significant pay cut presented as a rise. 2Gether has the money to pay them a proper wage increase and must do so.”

By Ryan Fletcher