Wigan and Leigh drug and alcohol staff take strike action

 Strike action involving 31 staff employed by Addaction is set to go ahead after Acas talks did not reach a resolution to their dispute on Wednesday.

A 100% vote for strike action was prompted by Addaction’s failure to keep its promise to pay staff the NHS rates for the job. Their union UNISON says that the striking workers stand to lose up to £1000 per year.

The staff are support workers within a drug and alcohol service which is commissioned by Wigan Borough Council. They used to be employed directly by the NHS, and Addaction promised staff that they would continue to receive pay rises in line with NHS rates of pay.

Support workers have been left frustrated as the employer has reneged on this pledge, refusing to implement the NHS three year pay deal which came into effect in April 2018.

Addaction has its headquarters in London and provides services all over the country.  It has an annual income in excess of £70million.

Paul Almond, a drug and alcohol worker and UNISON rep, said:

“I never expected to have to go on strike, and I don’t think many of my colleagues did either. We have agonised over this question.  But the fact that 100% of us voted to take action shows how strongly we all feel about this issue.

“We’re all willing to stick together to secure the pay rise we were promised.”

UNISON North West regional organiser Paddy Cleary said:

“Addaction have given repeated assurances to staff that they would receive the NHS pay deal, but they have gone back on their word.

“This dedicated group of support workers have been out of pocket for 16 months and have been forced to take strike action by an employer that just won’t listen.

“We had hoped that the Acas talks would be successful, but the local and regional managers who attended made no offer to staff and seemed to have no authority to reverse decisions taken nationally.  Assurances made by managers to staff in Wigan and Leigh seem to have been ignored and overridden by bosses in London.

“Our members voted 100% in favour of taking strike action. They are willing to do whatever it takes to secure the pay rise they’re owed. I would strongly urge Addaction to reconsider its position and pay up now.”

OUTSOURCED NHS hospital staff held a rally this afternoon as part of a two-day strike over “unequal” pay rates. 

Staff employed by private contractor Compass within St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have taken two days of strike action yesterday and today (Tuesday and Wednesday) over employers’ “failure to match NHS pay rates and working conditions”. 

Cleaners, caterers, porters, receptionists and security workers held a rally at the ex-services club on Warrington Road, Rainhill today. 

At the rally they heard speeches from St Helens’ MPs Marie Rimmer and Conor McGinn and from UNISON representatives. 

The union says most of the 300 hospital workers affected are paid only the minimum wage rate of £8.21 an hour, yet work alongside colleagues who are employed directly by the NHS, where the lowest rate is £9.03 an hour. This difference of 82p an hour is worth £1,600 a year for full-time staff, adds the union. 

On top of the lower hourly rate of pay, Compass staff are further disadvantaged by receiving no shift bonuses for working weekends and bank holidays. In addition, they receive only statutory sick pay, whereas their NHS colleagues are able to access a comprehensive sick pay scheme. 

Since the hospital staff announced their plans to strike, UNISON met with Compass to seek a resolution to the dispute. An offer made by the company to St Helens and Whiston Hospital workers to prevent today’s strike was overwhelmingly rejected, UNISON said. 

 Strike action involving 31 staff employed by Addaction is set to go ahead after Acas talks did not reach a resolution to their dispute on Wednesday.

A 100% vote for strike action was prompted by Addaction’s failure to keep its promise to pay staff the NHS rates for the job. Their union UNISON says that the striking workers stand to lose up to £1000 per year.

The staff are support workers within a drug and alcohol service which is commissioned by Wigan Borough Council. They used to be employed directly by the NHS, and Addaction promised staff that they would continue to receive pay rises in line with NHS rates of pay.

Support workers have been left frustrated as the employer has reneged on this pledge, refusing to implement the NHS three year pay deal which came into effect in April 2018.

Addaction has its headquarters in London and provides services all over the country.  It has an annual income in excess of £70million.

Paul Almond, a drug and alcohol worker and UNISON rep, said:

“I never expected to have to go on strike, and I don’t think many of my colleagues did either. We have agonised over this question.  But the fact that 100% of us voted to take action shows how strongly we all feel about this issue.

“We’re all willing to stick together to secure the pay rise we were promised.”

UNISON North West regional organiser Paddy Cleary said:

“Addaction have given repeated assurances to staff that they would receive the NHS pay deal, but they have gone back on their word.

“This dedicated group of support workers have been out of pocket for 16 months and have been forced to take strike action by an employer that just won’t listen.

“We had hoped that the Acas talks would be successful, but the local and regional managers who attended made no offer to staff and seemed to have no authority to reverse decisions taken nationally.  Assurances made by managers to staff in Wigan and Leigh seem to have been ignored and overridden by bosses in London.

“Our members voted 100% in favour of taking strike action. They are willing to do whatever it takes to secure the pay rise they’re owed. I would strongly urge Addaction to reconsider its position and pay up now.”

OUTSOURCED NHS hospital staff held a rally this afternoon as part of a two-day strike over “unequal” pay rates. 

Staff employed by private contractor Compass within St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have taken two days of strike action yesterday and today (Tuesday and Wednesday) over employers’ “failure to match NHS pay rates and working conditions”. 

Cleaners, caterers, porters, receptionists and security workers held a rally at the ex-services club on Warrington Road, Rainhill today. 

At the rally they heard speeches from St Helens’ MPs Marie Rimmer and Conor McGinn and from UNISON representatives. 

The union says most of the 300 hospital workers affected are paid only the minimum wage rate of £8.21 an hour, yet work alongside colleagues who are employed directly by the NHS, where the lowest rate is £9.03 an hour. This difference of 82p an hour is worth £1,600 a year for full-time staff, adds the union. 

On top of the lower hourly rate of pay, Compass staff are further disadvantaged by receiving no shift bonuses for working weekends and bank holidays. In addition, they receive only statutory sick pay, whereas their NHS colleagues are able to access a comprehensive sick pay scheme. 

Since the hospital staff announced their plans to strike, UNISON met with Compass to seek a resolution to the dispute. An offer made by the company to St Helens and Whiston Hospital workers to prevent today’s strike was overwhelmingly rejected, UNISON said. 

 

At the event, Mr McGinn said: “I came in to the Labour Party through the trade union movement and always stand shoulder to shoulder with workers in St Helens and across the country. 

“It’s very clear this is simply a case of workers being denied equal pay for equal work. 

“The company that refuses to pay them 82p an hour that would bring them up to the same rate as NHS staff made a profit of £1.7bn last year. 

“People in St Helens are very proud of our hospital and everyone in St Helens has a connection with it or to someone who works in it.” 

Assistant general secretary of UNISON Roger McKenzie added: “It is just not right that they are doing the same job as colleagues and not getting the same pay. 

“We know they can afford it, in other parts of the country they have done. What makes this Trust any different? 

“Many workers can’t afford to strike and the fact they are striking shows how angry they are with how they’re being treated. 

“These are people who work hard for the NHS and Compass and doing the jobs that nobody else wants to do, really difficult jobs at unsocial hours.” 

 

A spokesperson for Medirest, of Compass, said: “We are disappointed for patients and their families that UNISON has decided to go ahead with this strike, despite the improved offer we put to our colleagues at Whiston & St Helen’s Hospitals last week which included a 16 per cent increase in the hourly rate for domestic and catering staff and a 14 per cent increase for security staff. 

“Our improved offer is evidence of our commitment to finding a solution to this dispute, working in partnership with the Trust. 

“In the meantime our focus is to ensure that we maintain our duty of care and the high standards expected from Medirest during the industrial action.” 

 

‘Unison Workers at Addaction will be on the picket lines again in Wigan and Leigh this coming Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th September and Wigan Trades Council are calling upon trade unionists to show their support by visiting picket lines, inviting strikers to their meetings, and holding collections for their hardship fund.

‘This is an extremely important dispute. The employers, Addaction, are typical of privateers who first take over sections of our public services, then change working conditions and wages to suit their own interests, tossing their workers’ interests into the dustbin. 

‘Addaction workers were once a part of the NHS and received NHS wages and conditions. Yet now, despite doing the same work as they did before, they have been denied the benefits NHS staff are entitled to. This is an attack not just on Addaction workers, it is an attack on ALL health workers: A case of Addaction leading a race to the bottom for Wigan’s health workers. 

‘There is a familiar pattern here when private companies take over public companies; a pattern that will only increase if the Tories stay in Government and an agenda of privatisation prevails from all political parties. We need to unite around supporting this strike, sending a clear message to employers and any government that we won’t stand aside and allow them to wreck our public services and those who work in them. 

‘Picket lines will be on from 7.30 am at Coops Building, Dorning Street, Wigan and Kennedy House, Brunswick Avenue, Leigh.’

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