GMB & Unite members strike over subcos in Frimley

GMB and Unite members are today on strike at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust over  being transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary (WOS) designed to avoid paying tax.

Unite said its estates’ management, equipment maintenance, catering, portering, procurement and security staff, numbering about 90, are taking action for 24 hours from 7am.

This will be followed by a second 24-hour strike on November 17.

UNISON pulled out late last night, with the union’s SE regional secretary Steve Torrance saying: “Following productive discussions with the Trust, UNISON has agreed to postpone the industrial action due to take place this week.

“This is on the understanding that senior managers at Frimley have agreed to look into alternative solutions, including whether it will be possible to keep the staff employed within the NHS.

“UNISON will take no further action for the time being and as a result the Trust has agreed not to continue with its existing plans while these other options are pursued.”

GMB and Unite members are taking action at Frimley Park Hospital, Camberley; Wexham Park Hospital, Slough; and Heatherwood Hospital, Ascot.

On Monday between 06:30 – 08:30, there will be a protest outside the maternity parking entrance at Wexham Park Hospital which will be followed by an anti-WOS rally in Slough town centre between 12:00 – 14:00.  Pickets will be on duty at the three sites from 06:30.

On Tuesday between 12:30 – 13:00 there will be a ‘Hands off the NHS’ human chain around Frimley Park Hospital.

Unite regional officer Jesika Parmar said: “The protests we will be holding next week demonstrate the depth of anger at what we believe is biggest proposed wholly owned subsidiary (WOS) in England so far, which could adversely affect up to a 1,000 employees at the trust.

“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 if that happens and that, in turn, will lead to services for patients being adversely affected.

“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 are 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.

“Our members consider that the identity of their employer is a condition of their contract of employment and do not wish that being changed unilaterally.”

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.

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