Unite warned that a plan by East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust to outsource 250 direct employees and transfer 850 Serco staff into a new wholly owned subsidiary company, was a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ that would lead to the erosion of staff pay, terms and conditions.
Staff working in hospitals in Ashford, Canterbury, Dover and Margate across jobs in support services, including estates, portering, catering, cleaning, laundry and health and safety were told of the plan today (May 9).
Unite understands that the subsidiary company called ‘2gether Support Solutions’ will be controlled by East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust. The current director of estates Finn Murray is heading up the new company as managing director, but today refused to commit to guaranteeing continued recognition with Unite and other unions in the new private company.
The transfer of the 850 Serco and 250 direct employees, mainly from the Trust’s estates and support services sections, is set to take place on August 1, 2018.
“This plan is a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ with the prime aim of cutting costs and eroding NHS workers’ pay, terms and conditions,” said Unite regional officer Kathy Walters.
“Rather than bringing Serco workers back in-house, East Kent Hospital bosses are seeking to avoid paying nationally agreed NHS pay rates by setting up an arms-length company and transferring long-serving direct employees into it,” she added.
“It is an underhand way to treat hospital staff who play an invaluable role in delivering the best possible patient care to the communities of East Kent.
“Unite has successfully campaigned to stop the outsourcing of estates and other staff in the past and we fully intend to do so again,” she went on to say.
“In the coming days we will be working with our partner trade unions to consult with members, patient groups and concerned members of the public on taking forward a campaign to stop what is effectively privatisation via the back door.”