More than 200 cleaners, porters and cooks have staged a 48-hour strike at an NHS trust in Devon over implementation of Agenda for Change terms and conditions.
The workers, employed by contractor Sodexo, are demanding the immediate implementation of Agenda for Change conditions, which they claim have been withheld since 2006.
Following talks, North Devon Healthcare Trust had offered to introduce full sick pay and annual leave payments for the Sodexo staff from January 1 this year, and to move to terms of employment that are ‘no less favourable overall than Agenda for Change’, from April 1, but UNISON, who are representing the staff, rejected this.
The 48-hour walkout began at midnight on Monday after talks brokered by arbitration service ACAS broke down between UNISON, Sodexo, and the trust earlier in the day. A further meeting is due to be held on Thursday.
In a statement, the trust said its offer to introduce AfC equivalent terms and conditions from 1 April would “enable all parties to understand the full cost implications and to look at ways of limiting the budgetary impact at a time of tight public spending.
“The trust has stated clearly that there is no spare pot of money to pay for implementation and that efficiency savings would be needed”.
UNISON accused the trust of unacceptable delays in implementing the terms and conditions that the Sodexo staff were due, and said the trust was now asking the staff to pay for their increased benefits.
UNISON’s South West regional organiser, Helen Eccles, said: “Sodexo Unison members no longer have any faith in the trust. It has had over three years to apply this agreement and is still telling staff that they must wait”.