UNISON members at Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh Foundation Trust who work in roles including catering, cleaning and portering have begun 48 hours of strike action.
Staff are determined to prevent the Trust from moving them to a new employer called WWL Solutions. Staff want to remain direct employees of the Trust and the NHS, and they fear that the Trust’s proposals would put their jobs, pay and conditions at risk. The plan would also mean that future generations of hospital staff could receive worse pay and conditions.
Amongst the UNISON members who are set to join the strike on Wednesday are Wigan Infirmary domestics Amanda and Joanne.
Amanda Grimes (44) from Whelley has worked at the hospital for nine years. She said:
“I love working for the NHS. We have won awards for being the cleanest hospital and I am very proud to work here.
“The proposal isn’t fair. The NHS should provide jobs that are good and secure. We don’t want the next generation of domestics and porters and catering staff in Wigan to have worse pay and conditions than we have.”
Joanne McClure (38) from Beech Hill has been a domestic at the Trust for twenty years. She said:
“We are worried about our pay and conditions in future years. The plan is about saving money so it is a big risk to us, and what happens if the new company goes bust? It’s a risk we don’t want to have to take.
“I’ve never been in this situation before and it’s nerve-wracking and stressful to be going on strike. But we are all determined and staff are being very supportive of one another.
“If we don’t stop this plan what happens next? Other NHS staff might be outsourced next. We want there to be an NHS in another 70 years and so we are fighting for our jobs and fighting to defend the NHS.”
Sean Gibson, UNISON North West Regional Organiser said:
“The staff are determined to stop the WWL Solutions plan and they have done themselves proud in standing together against it. The Trust management has underestimated their resolve throughout.
“Our members are asking why, if the Trust needs to save money, they don’t look at what they’re paying the people at the top. Why are they starting with the lowest-paid workers in the hospitals?”
“The WWL Solutions proposal is an attack on the living standards and job security of people who live in the communities that this Trust is supposed to serve. And it is an attack on the prospects of future hospital staff.
“As we approach the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS, the Trust needs to grant the wish of this group of core hospital staff to remain in the direct employment of the NHS. They should stop trying to divide the workforce up and instead keep the NHS team together. They should abandon their WWL Solutions plan.”
There is a rally taking place at 12noon today (Wednesday) outside the Life Centre South near Wigan Town Hall. Lisa Nandy MP is due to attend to give her support. Unite members are also taking strike action today.
Top: Picket line at Leigh Infirmary this morning
Bottom: Amanda (left) and Joanne (right).