"The only way of stopping this from being a broken family is to get rid of this private company idea.”
UNISON members at Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh (WWL) Foundation Trust who work in roles including catering, cleaning and portering are set to take a second round of strike action for 48 hours from 6am on Friday 8 June. There will be a march from Wigan Infirmary at 11am on Saturday 9 June, with a rally at Believe Square from 12noon.
Staff are determined to prevent the Trust from moving them to a new private company called WWL Solutions. Staff want to remain direct employees of the Trust and the NHS, and they fear that the 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.
Following initial strike action on 23-24 May, accusations of vandalism were made by Chief Executive Andrew Foster and insulting comments about staff taking strike action were posted on social media. These have only strengthened the resolve of staff.
Amongst the UNISON members at Wigan Infirmary who are set to strike again on Friday are John and Terry:
Terry Knowles (57) from Springfield has worked as a porter for six years. He said:
“Management says it’s not privatisation but if you look at the Companies House website WWL Solutions is listed as a private limited company. It says what it is on the tin.
“The vast majority of staff are against the WWL Solutions plan and we are all determined to see this through.
“We care about the patients and this strike is a last resort to try to get management to change their mind. I hope the public of Wigan know that, and that they get behind us.”
John Myles (52) lives in Chorley and has worked as a maintenance operative in the domestics section for five years. John said:
“I love my job and I love working for the NHS. This isn’t about money, it’s about saving the NHS.
“Management is trying to break up the WWL family. The only way of stopping this from being a broken family is to get rid of this private company idea.”
Lizanne Devonport, UNISON North West Regional Organiser said:
“The Trust needs to listen to their staff and drop their divisive and damaging plan to set up WWL Solutions.
“Staff are taking a courageous stand to do all they can to keep the NHS together. There is lots of support for the strike action from colleagues, the public and community leaders.
“Bosses have responded so far with unfounded accusations and insults. But staff are not stupid – they know that WWL Solutions can only increase risks to their jobs and livelihoods. It is the staff who are trying to keep the NHS family together while the bosses seem intent on trying to break it up.
“The Trust has underestimated staff opposition to WWL Solutions throughout this process. It is time for Andrew Foster and the board to think again.”