A number of couriers who deliver emergency blood and pathology samples to The Chiltern Hospital will strike on May 23 and 24 over pay cuts.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) claim that 100 of the 121 London-based workforce are preparing to strike against services provider The Doctors Laboratory (TDL). The IWGB are demanding that the company reverses pay cuts implemented in 2015 and 2017.

IWGB are also demanding that TDL cover the couriers’ costs and implement pay increases.

Alex Marshall, a TDL courier and chair of the IWGB’s Couriers and Logistics Branch, said: “While TDL investors and managers get fat off of NHS contracts, the couriers that risk their lives every day to deliver emergency blood and pathology samples are being left to suffer under a regime of pay cuts and neglect.

“We are proud of the work we do, but that doesn't mean we will allow bully managers to continue to take us for a ride. We deserve respect and decent pay."

TDL claim however that couriers already earn ‘significantly in excess of a fully trained, NHS paramedic’. They also claim that all self-employed couriers have been given the opportunity of full employment, which has been rejected.

A TDL spokesperson said: “It’s exceptionally disappointing that a minority of our couriers, already some of the best paid in London and benefiting from similar terms and conditions to those of TDL employees, and indeed having been offered employment, have chosen to strike.

“While our couriers provide an important service, their intention to ‘shut down’ a vital medical service in pursuit of increasingly unreasonable demands is wholly irresponsible. In 2018 the average TDL courier earned significantly more than a fully-trained, senior paramedic and their union is now seeking annual earnings on a par with an experienced junior doctor.

“Their intention is to disrupt the transportation of medical samples from GP surgeries, clinics and hospitals to our laboratories. Our customers and their patients should be reassured that we have contingency plans in place and are doing all we can to ensure our service operates normally during this action.

“Many of our couriers are appalled at the thought of a strike and will work as usual, while existing external partners are in place should they be required.”

A spokesman for Chiltern Hospital said: “We are assured by TDL that they have plans in place to mitigate the strike action by the couriers, with scheduled collections due to take place as normal.”