Aramark health service employees are taking strike action today (21 March) in a dispute over pay.
Some 175 members of the GMB trade union who work as cleaners and hostesses for food service and facilities management firm Aramark, are striking at the Bethlem, Lambeth, Lewisham and Maudsley Hospitals in London.
The union members are seeking an hourly wage of £10, full sick pay and unsocial hours payments. At present, employees are paid a minimum of £7.38 an hour and receive 10 days sick pay a year after one year of service.
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The London living wage recommended by the Living Wage foundation is £9.40 an hour. At present, the national minimum wage is £6.70 for staff aged 21 and over. The national living wage, which comes into effect for workers aged 25 and over from April 2016, will be £7.20 an hour.
Of the GMB members who took part in the ballot, 97% voted in favour of industrial action.
Nadine Houghton, GMB regional organiser at the trade union, said: “GMB members are serious about fighting for something that any worker should be entitled to: a wage they can live on and a sick pay scheme that ensures they won’t be forced into poverty as a result of falling ill.”
A spokesperson at Aramark added: “We regret that the GMB rejected our fair and comprehensive offer and, as a result, some members of the union exercised their right to action in the form of a strike. We are committed to reaching a mutually agreed resolution and our door remains open for the GMB to continue discussions on behalf of its members.”