HEALTHCARE workers in Dudley are taking strike action over the failure of their employer to pay them a lump-sum payment they say they’re owed, Unite has confirmed.

Around 60 members of the Unite trade union, who are contracted to work for Mitie at three NHS hospitals in Dudley, are taking to the picket line from today (Monday December 4) after Mitie failed to honour the government’s commitment to pay a lump sum (Covid) payment worth between £1,655 and £3,789.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “These workers who keep the NHS going are being given a kick in the teeth by their employer. Mitie is a multi-million pound company which announced huge profits today, it can easily afford to pay them the money they are owed.

“Instead Mitie has dragged its feet every step of the way and forced some of the lowest paid workers in the NHS onto the picket line in their fight for fair pay. Unite will be backing them every step of the way.”

Members working at the Russells Hall, Corbett and Dudley Guest hospitals in roles including catering, restaurant, coffee shops, patient food services and administrative staff say they have been told that Mitie won’t pay the award due to the nature of their contracts.

A Unite member at one Dudley hospital explained the workers’ motivation for the industrial action: “We want the lump sum because we deserve it - it was for those who worked through Covid, which we did. We worked so hard, even though we didn't know what we were getting into and had to face the fear every shift… domestics didn't know if they were going into a ward full of Covid and death.

“In the restaurant, all they heard was bad news every time a staff member came in. It’s unfair that we all came in, risked our lives, just to be told because we aren't doctors or nurses that we don't deserve the same thank you.”

Staff have now begun a series of strikes during December, January and February to bring pressure on Mitie to make the payment they say they are owed.

Unite regional officer Su Lowe added: “Mitie could put the money in our members’ pockets tomorrow and yet it has come up with excuse after excuse. Our members have had enough and they will have the full backing of Unite in their fight.”

Strikes are planned from 5am for 24 hours today (Monday December 4), and on December 8, 11, 15 and 18; January 5, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26, 29; and February 2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23.It’s understood that NHS England has recently issued updated guidance allowing NHS providers to apply for a one-off payment for its employees and Mitie is believed to have submitted an application for this although the deadline for submissions is not until December 15 with decisions not expected immediately.

Mitie declined to comment on the strike action directly but a spokesperson for the company said: “We are proud of the hard work and dedication of all our colleagues up and down the UK, including those supporting the NHS. We are an award-winning employer, committed to offering industry leading benefits to all our colleagues.”