‘A landmark agreement’

Unite ends two-tier hospital workforce as Barts’ outsourced staff now back in NHS

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Unite has struck a landmark agreement with one of the UK’s largest NHS trusts to bring 1,800 NHS workers employed by the outsourcer Serco into NHS employment.

Cleaners, porters, security guards, and domestic staff working at the Barts Health group of hospitals are to benefit from NHS pay, terms and conditions.

Unite members staged a two week strike between Monday January 31 and Sunday February 13, 2022 to demand improved pay, an end to bullying and an end to the injustice of a two tier workforce.

Yesterday (Wednesday, March 2) the Trust’s board confirmed that the services Serco provides will be brought back in-house when the current contract with Serco expires at the end of April 2023.

Almost 1,800 staff will be transferred across to join the existing 17,000 Barts Health staff as NHS employees under Agenda for Change (AfC) conditions.

“Unite has struck a landmark agreement with one of the UK’s largest NHS trusts to end the two tier workforce,” commented Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

“Unite members and their reps have shown impressive determination and resilience to reach this negotiated settlement. The workers are exposed to the same risks as NHS-employed staff, so it’s only right for them to be treated equally and brought back into NHS employment. 

“The pandemic has put the treatment of NHS workers in the spotlight. Unite will be ramping up the pressure on other trusts because they can no longer look the other way,” she added.

“It was clear from Unite’s dispute with Serco that the inequality and pay disparity that our members faced needed to be addressed,” said Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed. 

She continued, “The Trust’s board has now confirmed that the mainly Black, Asian and ethnic minority staff will be brought in-house and transferred on to Agenda for Change terms and conditions from day one.

“The agreement negotiated between Unite and Barts is a significant step forward. The workers have tirelessly campaigned and their solidarity has paid off. Barts has set an example which other NHS trusts should follow.”

Unite’s strike action also delivered a cash lump sum for workers, including agency staff, on top of the annual pay increase. To address the issue of bullying, the Trust and Serco have agreed that Serco managers will undergo training.

By Ciaran Naidoo

Pics by Steve Stockwell

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