• Bolton Unison staff plan to strike this week over pay 
  • The trust previously committed to pay all staff NHS rates in full
  • It has now offered to pay the Living Wage rate

Staff employed by a trust’s wholly-owned subsidiary company will go on strike this week after rejecting a pay offer lower than the government’s agreed deal for NHS Agenda for Change staff.

Cleaners, catering staff and porters at Bolton Foundation Trust, who are employed by the BoltoniFM subsidiary company, will strike for 48 hours from Thursday.

They are not directly employed by the trust so cannot benefit from the nationally agreed three year pay deal for NHS staff, Unison has said.

BoltoniFM signed an agreement in 2017 stating it would implement nationally agreed NHS pay rates in full to all staff.

However, the trust has now offered to pay its subsidiary staff the living wage rate of £8.75 per hour, which Unison said is less than the current lowest rate of NHS pay.

Unison North West regional organiser Tom Ellis said managers should do what they previously committed and pay staff “what they are due”.

Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Social Care said £800m of extra funding had been set aside “which funds the first year of the Agenda for Change pay deal”.

The deal has given NHS staff an average 3 per cent uplift this year.

In July NHS providers accused the government of failing to deliver sufficient funding to cover pay increases for outsourced staff following the Agenda for Change pay deal.

The DHSC previously suggested the pay deal would apply to staff employed by subsidiary companies and future eligibility criteria would be set out.

However, in a letter to trust finance directors this week, NHS Improvement said funding is only being provided where the organisation employing the staff is “dynamically” using the AfC contract “in full for both existing and future staff”.

Lesley Wallace, finance director for Bolton iFM, said it was very disappointing negotiations have not resulted in strike action being cancelled.

“We have listened and acted, improving our offer to staff, and committing to become a real living wage employer as of 1 October, which is something unions have been campaigning for all employers to become,” Ms Wallace said.

“For bands A&B, this represents an immediate wage increase from £7.83 an hour to £8.75 an hour. A benchmarking exercise of similar organisations shows that Bolton iFM’s second offer of £8.75 per hour compares well and in most cases better than the amount offered elsewhere for the same bands,” she added.

However, Ms Wallace added that the latest wage increase is not funded by the government and the company is mindful of the need to protect its future financial stability.

“If the pay offer is accepted, additional efficiencies will have to be found to cover the costs involved,” she said.