Socialist Worker

Health round up: Bradford bosses back off after all-out strike threat

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2669

Bradford Health strikers

Bradford Health strikers (Pic: Neil Terry)


The Unison union suspended an indefinite strike by health workers in West Yorkshire after bosses backed off from plans to outsource hundreds of jobs.

Around 300 porters, cleaners and other support staff at Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital had been set to walk out on Monday.

Bosses wanted to transfer the workers to Bradford Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd on 1 October.

It is a wholly-owned subsidiary, a privately-registered company whose sole shareholder is the hospital trust.

This would take workers off the NHS pay-roll, opening the door to attacks on pay and working conditions.

The decision to suspend the action followed what Unison described as “constructive talks” at the Acas conciliation service.

Hospital bosses agreed to suspend the transfer until February.

Joint

A joint statement by Unison and bosses said, “Unison has been offered the opportunity to present its case to allow the Board to further reflect on the position previously taken.

“The outcome of this further consideration will be notified to Unison by the end of September 2019.

“Should the Board continue with its plans to form Bradford Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd it has been agreed that the earliest transfer date will now be 15 February 2020.”

The board is set to meet in early September.

The suspensions shows that strikes that are longer than one-day have the power to make bosses think twice.

They would not have backed off if workers hadn’t struck for three weeks in July and August and then threatened an indefinite walkout. Bradford bosses might try to use this period to break the momentum of the workers’ action.

If they refuse to drop the outsourcing plans altogether, Unison should immediately name the date for an indefinite strike.


Outsourcing protests in Frimley 

Health workers in Surrey held protests against bosses’ plans to outsource their jobs last week.

Bosses at Frimley Health NHS Foundation trust want to transfer staff to a wholly owned-subsidiary.

The Unison, Unite and GMB unions are fighting the plans.


Not going back in Tayside until their pay’s right

Striking pharmacy workers have vowed to “stay on the picket” until details of a possible pay deal are “ironed out”.

Unite union members at NHS Tayside in Scotland began an indefinite walkout on Monday of last week.

They are fighting against a flawed job evaluation process, which has left some workers on “lower pay grades than they should be”.

Unite wants NHS Tayside bosses to set up a local panel to look at the job evaluation process

Susan Robertson, the Unite regional official, said the health board had agreed to this suggestion “in principle”. She said, “At the moment Unite members will remain on the picket line.

“But we are hopeful that a way forward has now been found to resolve the dispute.


Charity workers in Wigan walk out after bosses refuse to honour wages promise

substance misuse workers in the North West who work for the charity Addaction struck last week after management refused to honour a 2 percent pay rise.

The Unison union members had been promised a pay rise in line with NHS pay scales after they were transferred over to the charity.

There were lively pickets outside Addaction’s offices in Leigh and Wigan.

The strike was well supported by Wigan trades council and there were banners from the local RMT union branch and Salford Unison union branch.

One Unison member said,“In desperation we are striking for the pay we were promised for the vital work we perform.”

Another worker said, “We were promised and reassured that there would be no changes in our conditions of service.

“We must fight this. If we don’t the management will see this as a weakness and they will come for our holidays and pensions like the rest of the public sector.

“We must use every method to win including the legal path and more strikes if necessary.”

David Lowe

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