University Hospital of North Staffordshire workers face parking rises
MORE than 1,000 hospital workers are protesting over plans to make them pay more to park at work.
Most of the University Hospital of North Staffordshire's 7,000 workforce will have to pay extra to park under the new scheme.
The hospital is to start charging employees 0.5 per cent of their basic salary for a parking space from April – instead of the current flat rate of £6.11 a month.
More than 1,000 Unison members have already signed a petition against the change.
The new scheme will see anyone earning less than £14,664 a year paying less to park than they do now – with those earning £30,000 having to pay twice as much.
A staff member earning £21,000 – which is the average starting salary for a nurse – would be expected to pay £8.75 a month, or £105 a year.
Unison branch secretary Rob Irving has consulted members over what action to take during two union meetings held this week.
He said: "We think the price of a car park should be the same for everyone. If you're buying a can of Coke, you don't have someone on a lower salary paying 60p, and someone on a higher salary paying £5. There's no difference in the parking space, so everyone should pay the same.
"The vast majority of employees will end up paying more under this system. If NHS employees get a one per cent pay rise next year, that will be mostly swallowed up by this parking increase.
"Some staff have to arrive at work 30 minutes early just so they can find a parking space."
Julia Ellis, Royal College of Midwives' leader at the hospital, said: "Staff will be far more amenable to an increase in the parking tariff if there is some improvement in the parking first.
"We're being asked to pay Marks and Spencer's prices for Lidl quality."
Royal College of Nursing senior steward Chris Bourne, left, added: "Nurses have been hit by a three-year pay freeze, higher pension contributions and a hike in our registration fees – now they face this rise in parking charges.
"Many staff would not mind paying if they could guarantee a space. But their working day is extended either by using the park and ride at the infirmary or having to hunt round for an empty bay."
The hospital is to increase its parking charges for the first time in four years.
Patients and visitors, who currently pay £2 to park for four hours, will now pay £3. Blue badge holders will be charged to park for the first time.
Hospital spokesman Andrew Ashcroft said: "The parking fees at the University Hospital are still significantly lower than many other trusts nationwide."