Staff at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board hospitals working in the sterilisation and disinfection units are today (Wednesday) taking industrial action for 24 hours from midnight this morning. Non-emergency surgery is likely to be severely disrupted. A further period of 24-hour strike action is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 1 February 2017.
96 per cent of participating staff in the hospital sterilisation and disinfection units at Morriston, Neath Port Talbot and Princess of Wales hospitals voted in favour of industrial action. They are infuriated their claim for pay parity with colleagues doing the same job in other hospitals in Wales has not been taken seriously by the Health Board.
Operating theatres, wards and clinics could not function without the work of assistant technical officers (ATOs) in the hospital sterilisation and disinfection units. They are skilled professionals decontaminating hospitals and surgical instruments to a very high standard. Elsewhere in Wales, these staff are employed on Band 3. At ABMU by contrast, ATOs work to an out-of-date job description and inferior rates of pay on Band 2. Across a year, UNISON has said ABMU staff are worse off by between £466 and £1,879 depending on their length of service in the post.
Mark Turner, UNISON organiser for ABMU said,
“We want to resolve this dispute quickly and have put a number of compromise proposals to the health board. Sadly hospital sterilisation staff don’t feel the board is listening to them or properly understands the work they undertake. They are highly skilled technicians of many years training. After more than two years of discussions the health board continues to ignore their very reasonable claim in the hope they will go away. These healthcare workers just want to be paid what they deserve.”
“The health board showed a desire to resolve a parallel pay dispute with the x-ray departments, why isn’t there the same willingness to reach an agreement for the sterilisation and disinfection unit workers?”