Compass staff at Blackpool NHS hospitals conduct two-day strike in pay dispute

Blackpool NHS Compass staff strike
Image credit: Unison

Approximately 300 members of staff employed by private health contractor Compass, working at NHS hospitals in Blackpool, are undertaking two days of strike action in an ongoing pay dispute.

Cleaners, caterers, porters, receptionists and security staff who are employed by Compass at Blackpool NHS Teaching Hospitals, St Helens Hospital and Whiston Hospital are conducting strike action, in conjunction with trade union Unison, on Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 August 2019.

Unison has stated that Compass employees in Blackpool are paid the national minimum wage rate of £8.21 an hour, while comparable NHS staff earn at least £9.03. The trade union has calculated that this amounts to a difference of £1,600 a year for full-time employees.

Compass staff on strike have further stated that they do not receive shift bonuses for working on weekends and bank holidays, and that they receive statutory sick pay, whereas NHS employees receive a more comprehensive sick pay scheme.

Strike action was originally held on 31 July 2019. Negotiations between Unison and Compass stalled after a pay offer of £80 back pay to employees at St Helens and Whiston Hospitals was disapproved by trade union representatives.

A spokesperson at Medirest, part of the Compass Group, said: “We are disappointed for patients and their families that Unison have decided to go ahead with this strike. Pay rates are set out in our client contracts and agreed in partnership with our NHS trust clients. Medirest has been working with employees, union representatives and our trust clients since May, endeavouring to reach a fair settlement.

“We made an improved offer to our [employees] at Whiston last week which included a 16% increase in the hourly rate for domestic and catering staff and a 14% increase for security staff and is evidence of our commitment to finding a solution to this dispute. In the meantime our focus is to ensure that we maintain our duty of care and the high standards expected from Medirest during the industrial action.”