Members at AGH Solutions at Airedale Hospital organising to improve pay and conditions.
For the last year our Branch members working in the wholly-owned subsidiary, AGH Solutions, at Airedale Hospital have been organising to improve pay, terms and conditions. Last week we sent a letter to the Board of Directors of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust demanding that they direct their wholly-owned subsidiary to "Uplift all employees onto the NHS “Agenda For Change” (AFC) contract, including bank staff". (see above for our letter and the response)
We did this because since 2017 new starters and members receive roughly £1.00 less than those of us on AFC and are not even entitled to any unsocial hour's enhancement rates. We’ve also recently learned that incoming staff employed under AGH Solutions who work night shifts will be paid time-and-a-third in contrast to those of us on AFC who receive time-and-a-half.
For those of us still on AFC, AGH solutions has removed the option for overtime on AFC pay rates, and insisted that if we do any overtime we will now have to do it for less pay by registering on “Bank”. Simply put, those of us who are willing to put in more time to support colleagues and patients will receive less money in real terms than we would have 4 years ago. This is because “Bank” staff are only paid the lower AGH rates.
In her brief statement Gemma Pemberton-Williamson, our Branch Race Officer and SSD Operative at the Hospital), set out her experience of the pay disparity in AGH Solutions:
"As a member of staff on AFC working alongside staff on bank or contracted on AGH Solutions wages it's disheartening knowing that my friends, doing the same job as me and who receive the same training, get paid far less than me for doing the same work.
For my friends not be paid for unsocial hours’ work (i.e. weekends and evenings) for doing the same work as me is both unfair and unjust. The lower pay rates mean a lot of my friends and colleagues sometimes struggle financially, and are having to work extra hours without any of the additional benefits.
The pay disparity is disgraceful and my friends and colleagues deserve equal pay for equal work, which is why our letter to the Board of Directors is only the beginning in our campaign to achieve pay equality."
GMB AGH Solutions Pay & Conditions and Partnership meeting updates
Last week we sat down for the pay and conditions meeting that GMB had requested of the company, plus we attended our regular partnership meeting with AGH Solutions Senior Management.
Key points from our Pay & Conditions Meeting (Monday 6 July)
Mistakes in the AGH Solutions FAQ document regarding the Agenda for Change Option to transfer from Band 1 to Band 2.
- We raised the fact that the FAQ document sent out to all members on Agenda for Change (AFC) terms and conditions contained two mistakes: (1) that the basic hourly pay rate was calculated at £9.92 instead of £9.89 and (2) that sick pay enhancements would be calculated on earnings instead of pay point (i.e. that even part-time workers on Band 2 would be entitled to the sick pay enhancements).
- Result: While senior management disputed that these mistakes were enforceable, especially with regards to the basic hourly pay, they were willing to concede that given their repeated miscommunications on sick pay enhancements, that they would consider our request for a local agreement that would allow Band 2 AFC employees to retain their sick pay enhancements until April 2021 when a new national pay deal will be negotiated.
- On Wednesday 15 July we submitted a formal request regarding the retention of sick pay enhancements for AFC staff until April 2021. We are also continuing to liaise with our legal team about whether these mistakes can be contractually enforced and will keep you up-to-date. If you require more clarification/detail then please speak to Joe on 07598946673.
AGH Solutions Terms and Conditions (i.e. members not Agenda for Change T&Cs)
Our primary talking point was with reference to the £500 annual bonus. We asked:
- AGH to stop including the annual bonus within their basic rate of pay (i.e. your basic pay is £8.99, but if you include the annual bonus for full-time workers it is £9.26). We stated this was misleading and confusing, especially given not everyone is automatically guaranteed the bonus as it is based on employees meeting specific criteria.
- Result: They agreed that in all future communications regarding pay, the £500 annual bonus would not be included in your basic hourly pay calculation.
- AGH to clarify the appeal process for members who disagreed with their line manager's assessment of their entitlement to all or 50% of the £500 annual bonus.
- Result: Apparently this is included as an appendix within the employee handbook, however AGH Solutions have agreed to add this to the section in the handbook related to the Annual Bonus for clarity.
- AGH Solutions to clarify that bank staff are entitled to the £500 annual bonus. Senior management sought to argue that bank staff are not entitled to this, however we pointed out that we regarded this as a breach of The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations (2000). We argued that although bank staff workers are on zero-hours, they are still considered part-time workers and therefore should be entitled to the same contractual terms and conditions as full-time staff.
- Additionally we pointed out that the explicit exclusion of bank staff from occupational maternity and adoption pay in the employee handbook in our view was further breach of the regulation.
- Result: We have asked the company to respond to us within two weeks. If they still persist in maintaining bank staff are not part-time workers for the purposes of the 2000 regulation we will seek guidance from legal department. Again, if you require more clarification/detail then please speak to Joe on 07598946673.
We outlined the unfairness of the pay discrepancies between staff on AGH T&Cs and staff on AFC T&Cs. We put forward the general moral argument (equal work for equal pay), the impact this discrepancy has on on those paid less and on staff morale and highlighted the comparison between new starters at Bradford Royal Infirmary versus Airedale.
We outlined the advantages of the VAT exemption status for private wholly-owned subsidiary companies, especially with regards to lowering procurement costs. We asked has money been saved? If not, why not? If they're using the same suppliers, why? Given the obvious savings in staff costs from paying out at significantly lower rates for new staff, where have those savings gone?
We requested that they open their financial books to us so that we can work to bring AGH Solutions pay and conditions in line with Agenda For Change.
Result: This was discussed further at the Partnership meeting last Friday, where we continued to disagree with their position. The company have now agreed to compile a two year retrospective analysis of their financial position to share with the unions in mid-August. We will review this information, make requests for additional financial documents if needed and then we will submit our suggestions as to how the company can utilise its finances to achieve pay parity for all staff on Agenda for Change T&Cs.
Key Updates from our Partnership Meeting (Friday 10th July)
New AGH Solutions Finance & Commercial Services Director to be recruited in September
Workplace vans are being retrofitted to become electric as part of AGH's sustainability plan.
Theatre Renovations to be completed in 2021.
New clock-in system to be fully implemented by the beginning of 2021.
11% of AGH Solutions staff are absent due to health and well being issues.
A meeting to discuss Trade Union facility time agreements to be arranged.
There have been only 2 employees whose sickness absence is a direct result of Covid-19.
Online Q&A meetings regarding a phased return to work for employees currently shielding are to be arranged soon (18 employees currently shielding).
Risk Assessments for each department continually being conducted.
100% BAME staff have been risked assessed in their respective roles.
The total number of Covid-19 patients at Airedale is 3 (as of last week) - Note: At the peak of Covid-19 there were around 100 Covid-19 patients.
Guidance on employees travelling abroad is being prepared in conjunction with the Trust and will be published soon.
AGH has a stockpile of PPE in the event of supply issues.
Partnership Meeting Report: 22 May 2020
GMB K40 Airedale Branch Survey
Please follow the link below to a Pay Survey For AGH Solutions. Please complete the survey as soon as possible.
Airedale GMB Members - Could you be a Workplace Rep?
We hope you are well and that you are keeping safe.
Our local Airedale K40 branch is undergoing redevelopment with the goal of creating a more effective union movement at the hospital to fight for better pay and conditions. Building a strong network of reps across all departments is key to your strength as a workforce. Would you be interested in becoming a workplace rep?
As we develop, our intention will be to hold regular elections for all reps on an annual basis, but we are putting a call out to members from all departments to express an interest in becoming a workplace rep now so that we can improve communications to members, respond quickly to any issues you are facing at work and to present a coordinated voice to management.
Reps provide support at both disciplinary and grievance hearings, identify and address health and safety issues and raise concerns with management at our regular partnership meetings. GMB offers a fantastic training programme for new reps - you will get paid release from work to attend along with lots of support from the GMB family.
Jake Crangle (Porter - AGH Solutions) has already expressed an interest to become a rep and so we will get the ball rolling by starting his training this month.
If you are interested in becoming a rep please get in touch via email, or if you want to discuss the role of a rep in more detail please get in touch with Joe Wheatley on 07598946673.
We hope to hear from many of you.
Please keep safe and make sure you let us know of any workplace concerns whether PPE, contract related or anything you feel the union can assist in addressing.
Rachel Dix (Regional Organiser)
Julie Scaife (Rep and Branch Secretary)
Carl Lawson (Rep and Branch President)
Matthew Thomas (Rep)
Joe Wheatley (Accompanying Rep)
Lou Foster-Wilson (Regional Organiser)