Strike action threatened over Berkshire hospital staff transfers

Possible strike action may be taken if NHS staff at four Berkshire hospitals are transferred to a private company, a union for the health service has warned.

GMB Southern says that transferring facilities staff at the hospitals will result in ‘potential job downgradings and pay cuts’.

Under NHS plans, facilities services and staff at King Edward VII (Windsor) St Marks (Maidenhead), Upton (Slough) and Wokingham hospitals will be transferred to NHS Property Services Ltd (NHSPS) on October 1.

GMB says that these people are ‘facing uncertainty’ from their transfer ‘out of the NHS family’, adding it will be balloting for possible strike action over the changes.

The ballot opened yesterday (Thursday) and will close on Thursday, September 9.

GMB regional organiser Asia Allison said: “Companies like NHSPS using the NHS logos aren’t fooling anyone and certainly not our members and transferring staff.

“The cost for our members isn’t just that they are being forcibly transferred out of their public services role within the NHS, it’s that after doing so, NHSPS wants to potentially make them break away after transferring from their NHS terms and conditions, and in this case their job roles and titles.”

Gary Palmer, another GMB regional organiser, added: “If the ballots are positive for strike action, then it could be that around the transfer date time, all four hospitals and Property Services could find themselves affected by a walk out.

“The answer is simple – remove all transferring staff from any job role and titles mapping plans and give written assurance that it will remain so, and staff and the GMB will suspend the threat of strike action immediately.”

A spokeswoman for the NHS Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust said that it has ‘done everything’ it can to support affected staff, adding terms and conditions such as pay and pension will be maintained once they are transferred to their new employer.

“NHSPS was created in 2013 and is responsible for over 3,500 NHS sites across the country, including some that we operate from,” she said.

“We received notification from NHSP earlier this year that the facilities management of the buildings they own in Berkshire would be taken back in-house by them from October this year.

“Since then, we have done everything we can to support our affected staff, who are being transferred across to work directly for NHSPS.

“NHSPS has worked constructively with us throughout this process and current terms and conditions for our transferring staff will be maintained, including pay, holiday entitlement, sickness benefit and pension.

“We know this has been an unsettling time for our staff but we hope that they will continue to work alongside us, albeit with a different employer, delivering the same high standards of service they have always provided to us and our patients.”

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