Hospital Cleaners Strike Ends

17 December 2010, 12:17 | Updated: 17 December 2010, 12:26

UNISON's cleaning members at Southampton General Hospital 48 hour strike in a pay dispute has ended.

UNISON's cleaning members at Southampton General Hospital say the industrial action is over management's failure to pay the agreed NHS rates even though they have been funded to do so by national government for the past four years. 

Negotiations have been ongoing for three years to resolve this dispute but UNISON say management will not pay the final part of the terms and conditions package until April 2011 and will not discuss the payment of back pay.  The national agreement on payment for private contractors was made in 2006 and the trust has been financed since that time to pay its cleaners at the agreed national rate.

Statement from the UNISON Union before the Strike.

Andy Straker, Regional Organiser for UNISON said:

"Our members patience over this issue has run out.  We have attempted to negotiate for the last three years but the trust have refused to pay our members what they are due, even though they have been financed to do this by national government.

Our members returned a 98% YES vote for strike action and still management refuse to negotiate.  We have been left with no other option but to call a strike.  If management are serous about averting this action then they have my phone number and they know what they need to do but unfortunately it would seem their attitude is going to lead to picket lines at the hospital."

Hospital Statement re end of Unison industrial action

Steve McManus, chief operating officer, said: "The plans we put in place to minimise disruption worked effectively and the hospital continued to meet its high standards of cleanliness in all clinical areas throughout the 48-hour strike period."

Before the Strike Steve Mc Manus said "In discussion with Medirest and UNISON, the Trust has agreed to provide funding to uplift both the pay and the terms and conditions of our cleaners to the level they would achieve as NHS employees under Agenda for Change.  This plan was due to reach full implementation in April 2011.  

Following ongoing discussion with UNSION, the Trust and Medirest have taken steps to accelerate the progress of implementation of this investment plan for our cleaning services.   It was understood that sick pay was a key issue for domestic staff therefore the Trust has injected additional funds into the contract to ensure sick pay was paid from 1 October 2010 (with payments backdated to 1 May 2010).   Staff have also received other increases in rates of pay ahead of the original planned schedule.

This agreement means the Trust is investing more than £1m over three years to increase rates of pay for cleaning staff in what is now an extremely difficult economic environment.  This demonstrates our commitment to both these staff and to patient care in our hospitals. "