Strikes against a decision by an NHS trust to outsource workers are “only the beginning” of the fightback, Unite has warned.
The warning came after the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust announced yesterday (June 28) that plans to create a wholly-owned subsidiary company, called WWL Solutions, have been approved.
NHS electricians, plumbers, fitters, porters and cleaners employed at Wrightington Hospital, Wigan’s Royal Albert Edward Infirmary and Leigh Infirmary will be employed by WWL from August 1.
The decision was made on the second day of a six day strike by Unite members, who will be joined by Unison members from today for the remainder of the industrial action.
In a statement the trust said, “As always, patient safety is our number one priority and this decision protects both the trust’s financial stability and jobs. WWL Solutions will be owned entirely by the trust and we believe this is the best way to ensure we can continue to deliver high quality services.
“WWL Solutions staff will continue to be part of the WWL family, but creating this wholly-owned company places us on a level playing field with the private sector.”
Unite regional officer Keith Hutson said the decision will inevitably lead to job cuts and attacks on terms and conditions in the future and urged to trust’s management to stop treating workers “like they’re pawns on a chessboard”.
He said, “The trust may think that this decision marks the end of the road but they are wrong. This is only the beginning. The unions will fight this decision and they will win.
“This is an undemocratic decision. The trust has failed to consult with its governors and other groups. As a result Unite is considering whether to take legal action against this entirely unwarranted decision.”
The workers have received support from Labour MPs Yvonne Fovargue and Lisa Nandy, who both joined the picket line today.
Fovargue said, “The decision to set up WWL Solutions is very disappointing and proves the trust is not listening to its staff who are the bedrock of the NHS.
“I’m absolutely convinced it is the wrong move. The trust should be talking to the unions and working with them. Taking staff out of the NHS is not the answer.”