Security guards in 'David and Goliath' pay battle

Security staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital to stage third wave of strikes

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Security staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, locked in a ‘David and Goliath’ pay battle with their employer, will be staging a third wave of strikes into early March.

The 20 security guards have been taking strike action since mid-December over the failure of their employer Kingdom Services Group Ltd to make a decent pay offer for 2020. They provide security for the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust.

The third wave of strike action, announced today (January 29) by Unite the union, will run from 7pm on Friday, February 12 and ending at 7pm on Sunday, March 7.

This follows on from already announced strikes from 7am on February 1 until 7pm on February 5; and from 7am on February 8 until 7pm on February 12.

Unite’s members are seeking a pay increase to £12 an hour for security officers and £13.00 an hour for security supervisors but, so far, the bosses have refused to budge from an offer which would see security officers on £9.30 an hour and supervisors on £10 an hour.

Unite contrasts the modest nature of the pay demand of the guards on the Covid-19 NHS frontline with the bulging pockets of the Kingdom Services Group, a major corporate service provider with a £100 million plus turnover.

Unite regional officer Jesika Parmar said, “Our members will continue their campaign for a decent pay rise with nearly a month of strike action into early March.

“This is truly a ‘‘David and Goliath’ struggle for a group of lowly paid workers against a massive corporate with deep pockets – and the fact that our members have received great support from the Reading public and further afield shows that people can see a glaring pay injustice.

“Our members, who provide security 24/7 at the Royal Berkshire Hospital on the Covid-19 frontline, would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to those that have shown such morale-boosting support and solidarity – it has been a real new year tonic,” she added.

“They are seeking a modest pay increase to £12 an hour for security officers and £13.00 an hour for security supervisors, but standing in the way of this reasonable demand for a living wage is a management, which is part of a global organisation with a £100 million turnover.

“The company refuses to budge on its paltry pay offer – it is like a stuck record – and avoids meaningful talks over the 2020 pay award,” Parmer continued. “However, there has been some movement on issues such as harmonisation of sick pay, and enhanced pay for working nights, weekends and overtime.

“Our members have been very reluctant to take industrial action during a continuing national crisis, but strongly feel that the bosses are using the pandemic as an excuse to drive down pay and employment conditions which is totally unacceptable.”

By Shaun Noble

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