A CAMPAIGN has been launched demanding "fair pay" for key workers at Airedale Hospital.

Union bosses say employees of AGH Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the health trust, are being paid different rates for doing the same job.

Roles include porters, domestics – responsible for cleaning the wards – and caterers.

Behind the campaign is the GMB, which has accused managers of "ignoring" employees' dedication through the Covid-19 pandemic.

And it has described workers' treatment as "unforgivable".

An online petition calling for action has so far been signed by more than 270 people.

The GMB says workers who were transferred from the health trust into AGH Solutions in 2018 remain on the NHS 'Agenda For Change' contract, while many new starters are paid on lower rates – meaning some employees receive nearly £1-per-hour less in basic pay than their colleagues, with the gap widening when payment for unsocial hours is factored in.

In November, the GMB entered into a formal dispute with AGH Solutions, demanding pay parity.

Rachel Dix – regional organiser for the GMB, which has 122 members working for AGH Solutions – said: "We will continue to stand-up for key workers.

"This pandemic has highlighted the tremendous debt of gratitude we all owe our frontline NHS heroes – and at Airedale, with this campaign, we can begin to repay that debt."

Union senior organiser, Peter Davies, said: "If there is one thing we have come to realise during this pandemic, it is that the public demands we value our workers in the NHS.

"For some staff to be deemed worth less because the trust has handed the reins to another organisation is unforgivable."

David Moss, managing director of AGH Solutions, refutes claims it doesn't value its workers.

"Our workforce is our biggest asset and we care about our people," he said.

"We acknowledge the dedication and hard work of our employees during this global pandemic and believe our pay award is fair and competitive in the current climate. We have made an offer for 2021-22 which includes an increase of 2.83 per cent for staff on band A (our lowest paid workforce) and 1.5 per cent for staff on band B and above; we have also made an offer to introduce enhancements for night working.

"When AGH Solutions was formed one of our core objectives was to transfer in 100 staff that were on outsourced contracts, the majority of which were previously being paid the minimum wage. The money saved on outsourcing contracts has been reinvested in giving those staff significant improvements in their pay and conditions. Staff on AGH Solutions terms and conditions have received a pay award of 15 per cent over the previous three years combined and our latest award will take our minimum rates to an annual wage of £18,586 including a £500 bonus, equivalent to the real living wage.

"Our rates of pay are higher than those paid by many employers and significantly higher than the industry average, recognising the importance of investing in our staff to deliver these vital NHS services. We are genuinely committed to continue to work with trade union colleagues to find a mutually agreeable solution.”

* The union petition is at megaphone.org.uk/petitions/key-workers-demand-fair-pay-at-airedale-hospital.