SOME of the lowest paid staff at the hospital will be voting on whether to strike in the next few days.

Caters, porters, cleaners and security staff at Royal Bolton Hospital will be receiving their ballot papers from UNISON as they consider whether to take strike action in a bid to gain a pay rise given to their colleagues.

These staff at the hospital are employed by a wholly-owned subsidiary company of the hospital trust called Bolton iFM.

These staff are not to receive a pay rise offered to those directly employed by the trust worth about £2,000.

Tim Ellis, UNISON Regional Organiser said: “Why should cleaning, catering and portering staff in Bolton be paid less than people doing the same jobs in other hospitals? Why should people who have been transferred to a subsidiary company get paid £2,000 a year less than colleagues on the same band who are employed directly by the trust?

“This is a real injustice that must be addressed.

“Staff are very upset about the way they are being treated and they would be wholly justified in taking strike action over this issue.

“Staff work hard to keep the hospital working and they deserve more than poverty pay.

“The trust and iFM need to treat staff fairly and make sure that they get the proper rate for the important work they do.”

READ MORE: Hospital pay row: 'We feel looked down on at work' say staff

The iFM staff are being supported by Bolton North East MP Sir David Crausby who has previously opposed wholly-owned subsidiary companies.

Sir David has launched a petition supporting the iFM staff and has gathered 3,500 signatures.

In July this year he signed an Early Day Motion against trusts setting up such trusts calling them a 'back-door to privatisation'.

READ MORE: MP makes stand against back-door NHS privatisation

The motion called on the government to block the creation of any further wholly-owned subsidiary companies and guarantee the continuation of the current pay banding system and access to the NHS Pension Scheme for all NHS staff, whether providing clinical or non-clinical services.

Bolton iFM staff say they were promised their pay would reflect future NHS pay scale changes however the company has in the past said the 2018 pay scale is a major reconfiguration and is not directly transferable to iFM staff.

Band one staff on the NHS pay scale (called Agenda for Change) receive £8.92 an hour, rising to £9.89 an hour over two years while iFM staff are currently on £7.83.

A spokesman for Bolton iFM said: "iFM remain committed to working with staff side representatives to determine an appropriate pay deal for iFM staff.”