UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

UNISON members to strike against Sodexo & North Devon NHS Trust‏

UNISON members at the North Devon hospital Trust employed by Sodexo have voted by a massive 97% in favour of strike action over unpaid wages and conditions going back over 3 years to 1st October 2006.

In a 71% turnout over 210 workers have backed a strike that is due to start at midnight on 4th January for 2 days followed by weekly action. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/8429048.stm

The dispute is over the refusal of the Trust and Sodexo to pay full Agenda for Change terms and conditions as agreed with the NHS, the trade unions and private contractors in a Joint National Statement in 2005. This was part of the ‘Warwick Agreement’ on the ending of the two tier workforce in the NHS.

Instead the Trust has used the funding allocated to pay for Agenda for Change to help reduce its £8 million deficit. The Trust now has no deficit but the workers have been told there is no money left for their 3 year back pay or for the payment of the improvements in wages and terms. Instead the Trust is now applying for ‘foundation status’.

The workforce has organised itself in the last few months in order to campaign for their entitlements. Membership has rise from 45 to 213 since June this year and they now have an organising committee of 5 stewards. Members are still only receiving £6.77 an hour plus an attendance allowance of 22p an hour. Most get no enhanced pay for overtime, weekend working, evening or overnight work. Few are in a pension scheme.

Public support has been very important and very visible. Most private houses on the main road to the hospital are displaying large signs supporting the campaign and a large farmers field opposite the hospital has a large sign several feet high in support.

In an effort to avert the strike the Trust and Sodexo have announced that they will now pay sick pay arrangements for all from the 1st January and will honour the holiday entitlements of Agenda for Change from the same date. But this will take no account for the 3 years unpaid rates and will still be paid on the wrong rates.