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Buckinghamshire NHS Workers On 2 Day Strike!

wycombe hospital strike

5:48am 15th December 2010
(Updated 8:53am 16th December 2010)

150 support staff like cleaners and porters will walk out of Amersham and Wycombe Hospitals in a row over their sick pay and other conditions.

Steve Bell the Secretary of the Bucks Health branch of Unison told Mix96 the dispute involves a private company: "after 4 years waiting for nationally agreed terms and conditions to be paid by Bucks Healthcare and the Medirest/Compass group, Medirest workers at Amersham and Wycombe Hospitals have had enough and voted to take strike action."

"Medirest workers have been waiting patiently waiting for a number of years while Unison has tried to negotiate sick pay and other terms and conditions that the Department of Health, CBI and Unions agreed to for workers working in the NHS for private companies. The Department of Health funded this agreement and it was put into hospital trust budgets. Despite this the hospital trust denies that they have ever had the money and refuse to fund the contract, thus the workers have been left waiting. Medirest/Compass made profits of over £800 million pounds last year and refuse to pay the terms and conditions unless the trust funds it. Yet it funds these terms and conditions in 80% of its other NHS contracts. While these two organisations fight over who should pay these low paid hard working staff are left waiting with no answers. These workers should not have to pay for a dispute between two organisations with budgets that run into hundreds of millions of pounds." 

"Unison has tried to progress this with lobbies, petitions, debate and with the involvement of ACAS, yet the workers issues remain unresolved with no further offer off talks."

"Unison members working for Medirest voted overwhelmingly to take strike action and have informed the company and the trust that they will be taking 48hours of strike action starting at 10am on the 15th December, lasting until 10am 17th December. This is not an action taken lightly as these workers are very loyal and hardworking NHS staff. However they are also amongst the lowest paid in the NHS and some are owed thousands of pounds."

"Bucks Health Branch of Unison fully supports this action of last resort and asks that pressure is put onto the trust and Medirest to settle this dispute by paying what is owed. All support is welcome and solidarity messages and visits to the picket lines on Wed, Thurs and Friday would be warmly accepted. As would donations to the hardship fund (Bucks Health Hardship Fund) c/o Steve bell, Unison, Union Office Tindal Centre, Aylesbury Bucks."

In response a spokesperson for the Compass Group UK & Ireland told Mix96 "we are naturally disappointed with this decision. We fully support the implementation of Agenda for Change and we have implemented it across 80 per cent of our hospital contracts where the funds have been made available."

"Our duty of care to patients remains paramount and during strike action we will ensure that we maintain the high standards of cleaning and patient dining expected from Medirest and the Trust."

"We have good relationships with both UNISON and the Trust and will continue to work with them to resolve this issue."

A spokesperson for Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust, who manage Amersham and Wycombe hospitals told Mix96 "we have been advised that contracted staff, who work for our outsourced facility management provider Medirest, will be taking strike action at Wycombe and Amersham hospitals from 10am on Wednesday 15 December until 10am on Friday 17 December."

"We are working closely with Medirest in the run up to the planned strike to ensure that our hospitals remain clean and safe during this period. Safety remains paramount and our services and patients will not be affected."

"We would like to reassure all patients and visitors that they should experience no disruption to their treatment or visit to these hospital sites during the industrial action. However, please be advised that there may be some minor changes to traffic flow and parking at Wycombe Hospital during this period, although these will be fully sign-posted and marshalled."

"Should you have any concerns about visiting either hospital during the planned action please contact the relevant ward/department for further information."

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