Frimley Health NHS Trust staff who are members of trade unions Unite and GMB are taking industrial action today (18 November 2019) to protest their transfer to a Wholly Owned Subsidiary (WOS), which they claim will risk eroding their pay and employment conditions.
Estates management, equipment maintenance, catering, portering procurement and security staff, numbering around 90 individuals from Unite alone, commenced strike action at 7am today. This will continue until 7am on Wednesday 20 November.
The WOS in question is set up and owned by the NHS, but operates as a private organisation. New staff employed by the WOS, GMB has stated, will not receive NHS pay, terms or pensions.
The strike will include pickets at Frimley Park Hospital in Camberley, Wrexham Park Hospital in Slough and Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot, as well as protests outside Wrexham Park Hospital, a rally in Slough town centre, and a human chain around Frimley Park Hospital on Tuesday.
Unite has predicted that 1,000 employees working for the NHS trust will be affected by the transfer to a WOS.
Jesika Parmar, regional officer at Unite, said: “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.”
Neil Dardis, chief executive at Frimley Health, said: “We are totally focused on ensuring that it is business as usual for our patients and that they can access the great care they expect from us every day of the week.
“We are very grateful to the many staff who volunteered for alternative duties to ensure patient services run smoothly.”