Outsourced Ipswich NHS staff plan protest over poverty wages

Cleaners and caterers at an NHS mental health unit in Ipswich will stage a protest on Thursday over the “poverty wages” paid by contractor G4S, UNISON announces today.

Most G4S staff at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) are only paid the minimum wage of £10.42 an hour — £1 an hour less than their colleagues doing the same jobs but employed directly by the NHS.

The staff say the wages are not enough to make ends meet and have been pushing G4S to pay at least the real living wage, the independently calculated minimum rate workers need to cope with the cost of living. But UNISON says the contractor is trying to pass the buck, claiming it can only afford to pay workers properly if the trust coughs up the cash.

Workers at Woodlands Mental Health Unit, which is on the Ipswich Hospital site, will protest this week in the hope that their NHS colleagues and members of the public will support their campaign for fair pay.

UNISON rep Hayley Springate, a G4S worker at Woodlands, said: “We’ve had enough of poverty wages.

“We’ve endured low pay for years, worked through the pandemic, facing the same risks as directly employed NHS staff, but have nothing to show at the end of the month.

“All we’re asking for is a real living wage. We’re worth it.”