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Security staff at a Southampton hospital go on strike following fears for safety

Security workers on strike outside Southampton General Hospital Photo:
  • WATCH- 'We've been head butted, spat at, racially abused' - Why hospital security staff are going on strike:
  • SCOTT KEMP is the regional UNITE officer.

Security staff at Southampton General Hospital have gone on strike for 24 hours in a row over pay and equipment.

Members of the Unite union walked out at midnight after allegations that security staff are being attacked on a regular basis by members of the public either under the influence of drink or drugs or with mental health problems.

They've demanded that their employer, Mitie, should supply them with stab vests and a pay increase.

Mitie says it's made offers to try and end the dispute and is working to make sure that the hospital has adequate cover.

“Sadly, Unite was unwilling to listen to our offer or enter to constructive conversations. We have offered a substantial percentage increase to £9.00 an hour for our public facing staff equating to a 9% rise in the last 7 months, since September 2018. We had already agreed a further 2% increase for this coming February, this will total an 11% increase in 18 months.

“In addition to the investment already made in body worn cameras, safety gauntlets and the gloves recently issued, the site team had already tested additional body worn protection with further trials due to take place imminently.

“Ensuring the safety of patients and members of the public visiting the hospital remains paramount. We have arranged for a fully trained team of officers with relevant experience to provide cover onsite to maintain a usual level of service.”

– Spokesperson at Mitie

More days of strike action have been planned for 19 April and 24 May along with a 48 hour stoppage, starting on 3 May and a further 72 hour strike on 7 June.

Unite says and an overtime ban will also commence on 5 April.

“The Acas talks broke down as the Mitie management failed to provide sufficient guarantees about the introduction of the vital protective equipment we have repeatedly requested.

“Mitie said that it is prepared to look at stab vests; however, there is no timescale associated with their introduction and no guarantee that they would be approved by the trust’s infection control team.

“Unite also asked that leg restraints be used across the hospital rather than just in A&E. Again, the Mitie bosses said they can’t guarantee that will happen as they will have to ask the trust.

“On sick pay, Mitie offered an increase to four weeks full pay followed by four weeks half pay, but it remains the case that this applies only if someone is injured carrying out their role. There has been no real movement on this.

“Lastly, Mitie offered an increase on the base rate for security officers to £9 an hour with no increase for supervisors. There has been no movement at all on unsocial weekend payments.

“In essence, Mitie is locked into its contract with the trust and claims there will be no more offers on pay unless the trust offers more money.

“As a result, the strikes will be going ahead and Mitie is planning to parachute in security guards from different sites to cover the strikes, but they won’t have the appropriate training or site knowledge to be effective.

“The lack of urgency on Mitie’s part to resolve these personal protection issues at the Tremona Road site remains a disgrace.”

– Scott Kemp, Unite lead officer for health, South-east