Unite called today (December 3) on logistics firm Unipart and NHS supply company Supply Chain Coordination Limited (SCCL) to take part in talks mediated by the conciliation service Acas over pay for lorry drivers earning an industry low of £10.24 an hour.
The drivers, who are employed nationwide by Unipart and drive HGV and 7.5 tonne vehicles, deliver NHS general equipment and supplies on behalf SCCL, which is wholly owned by the secretary of state for health and social care.
SCCL has been mandated to save the NHS £2.4bn by 2022/23 through the unification of health service procurement, however Unite has warned that this must not result in a race to the bottom for drivers’ pay and conditions.
The drivers are asking for a pay rise in line with inflation as well as full sick pay benefits.
Talks between Unite, Unipart and SCCL broke down last week, despite a deal close to being reached.
Unite urged Unipart and SCCL to commit to negotiations mediated by Acas, stressing that it would far rather resolve the dispute than ballot members for industrial action.
Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone said, “Our members are fed up with low pay for the industry they work in, despite performing a stressful role in ensuring that NHS supplies are delivered to hospitals and medical facilities across the land.
“It is extremely disappointing that negotiations between Unipart and SCCL broke down after positive progress had been made. Our members fully understand the need for a joined up procurement policy for NHS supplies to ensure health service funds are directed to where they will make the most difference. But this shouldn’t result in their pay and conditions being targeted,” he added.
“Our members are simply looking for an offer which is acceptable and reflects the hard work they do. This dispute needs to be resolved sensibly, which is why Unite is urging Unipart and SCCL to commit to Acas negotiations.”