The National Health Action Party (NHAP) wishes to express its solidarity with outsourced striking workers at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust.
The striking workers, 300 in total, work as caterers, porters, cleaners, security guards and receptionists and are outsourced to the Trusts by private contractor Medirest, a subsidiary of Compass Group - a private contractor that supplies numerous Trusts with outsourced workers.
The striking workers, like many outsourced workers working within the NHS, are demanding parity with NHS staff in terms of both pay and working conditions. NHS pay scales and working conditions are determined by the NHS' national Agenda for Change Framework.
This framework sees NHS workers enjoy greater pay, sick pay, annual leave and other rights than their outsourced colleagues, colleagues who nonetheless are vital to the smooth running of hospitals and who undertake essential functions such as cleaning.
Unison, the union representing the workers, has calculated that their members currently receive £1,600 less per year than their NHS counterparts.
The striking workers also receive no shift bonuses for working weekends or bank holidays. On top of this they only receive statutory sick pay. At the time of writing Medirest has refused to concede to the workers demands.
The National Health Action Party firmly believes that the public are against the NHS being complicit in the formation of two-tier workforces which pay poverty wages to those who significantly contribute to the smooth running of the health service.
The business model of outsourcing is explicitly predicated upon the exploitation of workers who fail to enjoy the same rights and working conditions as their colleagues who work in-house. The NHS should not be complicit in this exploitation.
The rise in outsourcing within the health service, coupled with the rise in NHS Trusts setting up wholly owned subsidiary companies in order to transfer staff from the NHS into private companies in which their wages and working conditions can be driven down is also an unacceptable yet increasingly prevalent phenomenon.