Hospital workers in Blackpool and St Helens emerge victorious in strikes over equal pay



UNISON and private company Compass, which employs cleaners, caterers, porters, security and reception staff at Blackpool and St Helens Hospitals, have reached an agreement to end the long-running dispute over wages and sick pay. 

Before the settlement Compass employees were on the national minimum wage (£8.21 per hour), while colleagues employed directly by the NHS were earning at least £9.03. This meant Compass staff were losing out to the tune of around £1,500 a year.

Staff were understandably angry that they weren’t receiving the same pay and benefits as NHS colleagues often doing similar jobs. Following the vote for industrial action in July, the Compass staff went out on strike for a total of 14 days.

The UNISON brokered deals – voted for by 89% of the domestics at Blackpool and 75% of staff in St Helens – means they’ll now receive a significant pay rise, more money for working weekends and bank holidays and an improved sick pay scheme.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Christmas will be even more special for these staff who’ve been battling for months to be treated fairly. There can be no justification for creating a divisive two-tier health service.

“The big winners from the settlement will be staff and patients, who’ll be pleased to learn that Compass has put people before profits.”

UNISON North West regional organiser Pat Woolham said: “This substantial pay rise will make a huge difference to the families of these dedicated hospital workers. The positive end to this campaign shows what can be achieved when unions and employers work together.  

“It’s been a tough dispute but we look forward to working with Compass in the future for the benefit of patients and staff in Blackpool and St Helens.”


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