Staff at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, who face being transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary (WOS) designed to avoid paying tax, will strike in protest for a further three days this month.
Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (December 5) that its estates’ management, equipment maintenance, catering, portering, procurement and security staff, numbering about 90, will strike from 07am on Wednesday, December 18 for 72 hours.
This latest wave of industrial action follows two days of strike action last month.
Unite will be coordinating the strike action with the GMB union – altogether about 1,000 staff at Frimley Park Hospital, Camberley; Wexham Park Hospital, Slough; and Heatherwood Hospital, Ascot are affected by the trust’s plans.
Unite said that it had evidence that the trust is intent on pushing ahead with its flawed business model, as it is issuing new uniforms without the distinctive NHS logo on the clothing, which previously had been the case.
“The latest bout of strike action this month demonstrates the continuing depth of anger at what we believe is biggest proposed wholly owned subsidiary in England so far, which could adversely affect up to a 1,000 employees at the trust,” said Unite regional officer Jesika Parmar.
“Our members have voted overwhelmingly that they have no wish to be employed by a WOS designed to avoid paying tax. They are concerned that their pay and employment conditions will be seriously eroded by such a plan,” she added.
“Already the trust is issuing new uniforms without the NHS logo on the clothing, which previously had been the case – it is clear that the trust bosses don’t see this new venture as being part of the NHS, which is disgraceful.
“The trust is also attempting to undermine the strike by employing expensive agency staff,” Parmar went on to say.
“We are calling on the trust’s board to ditch these misguided and flawed plans. We are seeking an undertaking from the trust that it will agree to continue to employ all our members and not transfer them to a WOS.
“We remain strongly against the formation of these entities which, we believe, could lead to a Pandora’s box of Carillion-type meltdowns – with knock-on effects for patient services and jobs.”
The Frimley trust provides NHS hospital services for about 900,000 people across Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey and south Buckinghamshire. Unite has 220 members at the trust and only balloted those directly affected by the WOS.
Unite members voted by 92 per cent to strike.