By Cullen Browder, WRAL presenter/reporterFor nearly two years, WRAL Investigates has been covering the mental…
Workers at NHS sites across Lancashire, including those in Accrington, Blackburn and Rossendale, have announced four more strike dates.
The 50 workers include porters, catering staff and cleaners at hospitals, mental health units and clinics in Blackburn, Blackpool, Ormskirk and Preston.
The workers are employed by the private healthcare facility company OCS and demand the same pay and leave as NHS colleagues doing the same job.
They organized a 72-hour strike at the end of June and will leave on July 26 and 27 as well as July 31 and August 1. The workers voted 93.2% in favor of the strike.
UNISON says the strikes will intensify throughout the summer unless the OCS and the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust agree to a series of terms, including backdating the correct rate of pay and the payment of NHS rates for nights, weekends and public holidays.
UNISON regional organizer Dale Ollier said: ‘These are NHS workers contracted out to a company that makes millions in profits every year. What they are asking for is both affordable and fair.
“No one wants to see services disrupted, but OCS and Trust managers need to ensure that workers doing the same work are treated equally. NHS Trusts should not outsource services to avoid pay and conditions that have been agreed nationally for all NHS staff.
“These workers have sent two letters offering to meet Trust board members to explain their plight, but so far no one has accepted their offer.”
Prior to the previous strike, several workers had written an open letter to the Trust’s chief executive, Caroline Donovan, asking her to intervene to settle the dispute.
In their latest letter, the workers said: ‘We love the NHS and are proud to say we are part of it. We are also proud to have played our part on the front line during the Covid-19 pandemic, keeping services open and patients safe.
“But we don’t understand why we are not treated the same as everyone else. It’s hard to come into work knowing we’re not valued equally.
Sites affected include Royal Blackburn Hospital, Daisyfield Mill Clinic and Mount Clinic in Accrington, Harbor and Wesham Rehabilitation Units in Blackpool, Preston’s Guild Park Hospital, Ormskirk and District General Hospital and Balladen House in Rossendale.