Following strike action that took place for two days starting on 1 May 2019, outsourced catering staff at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been offered a pay deal matching that agreed to in 2018 for health staff directly employed by the NHS.
In January 2017, around 70 staff members were transferred from employment by the trust to private organisation Sodexo. Trade union Unison argued that this cost each individual around £1,000 per year as their pay did not progress at the same rate as it would have when working directly for the NHS.
In 2004, Unison and other health unions negotiated the nationwide pay system and terms and conditions agreement with NHS employers; each year, this pay system undergoes an independent review carried out by the NHS Pay Review Body.
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Unison stated that Sodexo previously refused to match the pay rise given to NHS employees. Following two days of industrial action and negotiations with Unison and trade union GMB, on 3 May 2019 it agreed to do so.
Stike action was undertaken by low-paid, predominantly female workers at Doncaster Royal Infirmary and Bassetlaw Hospital. This is part of a series of similar recent actions taken by trade unions against Sodexo in disputes over pay among staff at NHS hospitals.
Sue Cookman, regional organiser at Unison, said: “We need to agree some finer details with Sodexo, but I am delighted that an agreement has been reached. This is down to the sheer determination of these workers and shows what can be achieved when they stand together to fight for what they are owed.
“The energy and enthusiasm on the picket lines has been amazing, and the support from the public has been heartwarming. These are NHS workers through and through, and their commitment to the NHS is unwavering, no matter who employs them.
“The government needs to properly fund the NHS pay deal for all health service workers, including those who have been outsourced.”
Stacey Booth, regional organiser at GMB, added: “Sodexo underestimated the strength of feeling amongst their workers. Members were adamant [that] until they received a promise the company would pay up the action would continue. Today, their persistence has paid off and we are pleased to announce that Sodexo have agreed in conjunction with the trust to pay the award in full and backdated.
“This is a fantastic win for members, but one they should never have had to fight. We hope that the relationship with Sodexo will be much more constructive going forward.”
A spokesperson for Sodexo said: “We are pleased that following further talks with the Trust we have reached an agreement which enables us to implement the 2018 Agenda for Change pay rates for our team at Doncaster & Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals.
“The new pay rates are effective from 1 April 2018 and will be implemented by the end of June 2019 along with a one-off payment for the back dated pay difference since 1 April 2018. We would like to thank our team for their continued hard work in ensuring the standard of care for patients is maintained.”