WORKERS at Airedale Hospital have voted for strike action over a pay dispute.

Since December 2020, NHS workers employed by Airedale Hospital’s wholly-owned subsidiary, AGH Solutions (AGHS), have been in dispute over unequal pay.

The workers, who are members of GMB trade union, include porters, domestics responsible for cleaning wards and caterers.

A GMB spokesman said: “Workers who were transferred over from the Trust into AGHS in 2018 remain on the NHS “Agenda For Change” (AFC) contract, while many new starters, and indeed all staff (including those who were TUPED) that register on bank (i.e. overtime shifts), are paid on the lower AGHS rates, despite doing the same job.”

He said those doing the same job on lower pay did not feel valued and felt they were not being treated fairly.

He added: “GMB members are demanding alignment of all AGHS staff (including bank staff) with the NHS Pay rates, terms and conditions. AGHS has submitted three pay proposals, all far below NHS pay rates, and all three have been firmly rejected by GMB members.

GMB members have now voted in favour of strike action. If no agreement is reached, the strike will commence on July 19.

Joe Wheatley, local organiser, GMB K40 Airedale General Branch, said: “The demand for equal pay for equal work is fair, it is reasonable and it is right. Every day since March 2020, our members have put themselves at risk; at risk of getting infected and at risk of infecting their family. We clapped for them, we labelled them heroes and yet here in our community, some of our local heroes face the indignity of being treated less than; to be NHS workers, but not to be paid as NHS workers.

“We have reached the stage where members are being asked to consider industrial action because the Board of Directors of both AGHS and Airedale NHS Foundation Trust have allowed us to reach this point. The Trust outsourced their responsibility to AGHS and in turn AGHS created a two-tier workforce that made it permissible to pay people different wages for the same work. We are simply demanding that this be corrected, that the Trust recognise its responsibility to these NHS heroes and AGHS end unfair wage practices.”

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust has been asked for a comment.