South West Wales

Unison to ballot ABMU hospital staff over pay parity row

cleaning hospital floor Image copyright Thinkstock

Some Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board hospital workers are being balloted in a row over pay.

Unison said staff in sterilisation and disinfection units and radiology departments are "infuriated" their claim to be paid the same as colleagues in other hospitals has not been taken seriously.

Unison is "confident" members will vote in favour of strike action.

The health board said it is "fully committed" to resolving concerns.

Unison said it has repeatedly put the case for pay parity to managers, but the "exasperation at the lack of progress has turned to anger".

The ballot affects band two assistant technical officers (ATO) in hospital sterilisation and disinfection units and band two clerical officers in radiology.

There are 128 such staff working at Morriston and Singleton hospitals in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Princess of Wales, Bridgend, although not all are Unison members.

Unison said ATO staff are employed on band three pay in most of Wales, with ABMU workers worse off by between £466 and £1,879 a year.

It also argued that their job description is "hopelessly outdated."

Radiology staff are said to be similarly affected by a dispute over pay banding.

Image copyright Thinkstock

Mark Turner, Unison organiser for ABMU, said: "Simple justice says two healthcare workers in the Wales NHS, with the same role, responsibilities and experience, should be paid the same rate for the job.

"Staff are so angry they are likely to vote for strike action. They cannot understand why their health board values their work less than peers doing exactly the same job."

He added: "The sterilisation and disinfection unit might be 'behind the scenes' work but it is essential to the effective running of the hospital".

ABMU Health Board said it was "sorry" its discussions with Unison have been unable to resolve staff concerns.

A spokeswoman said: "We would like to make it clear that all our staff - no matter what their role within the health board - are valued and all of them contribute equally to the care of our patients.

"Only in Cardiff and Vale Health Board where restructuring has taken place, and Hywel Dda Health Board where a different service is provided, are ATOs a band three.

"We have been working with Unison to develop a new job description for ATOs and have reached agreement on all areas apart from the necessary qualification."

She added that they are also working with the radiology department to address any concerns staff have.

"ABMU is fully committed to continuing its partnership work with UNISON," she said.

"In the meantime, we would like to reassure patients should strike action go ahead we will be working to ensure any disruption to services are minimal."

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