N&N estate workers set to strike

Contract workers at Norfolk's biggest hospital have announced they are to stage two 48-hour strikes. The staff are members of the Unite union and employed in the estates and works department by Serco Services at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, though colleagues working in catering, cleaning and similar services are not involved in the action.

Contract workers at Norfolk's biggest hospital have announced they are to stage two 48-hour strikes.

The staff are members of the Unite union and employed in the estates and works department by Serco Services at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, though colleagues working in catering, cleaning and similar services are not involved in the action.

Strikes are scheduled from Monday, October 29 and Monday, November 5, though Unite members will also refuse to undertake paperwork from October 31.

However, patients have been assured by managers that they will not be affected by the action.

The dispute involves more than 40 Serco staff is connected to their claim to be treated the same as if they were employed by the NHS. The union has been in discussions with the company to adopt similar terms and conditions to staff employed directly by NHS trusts.

Regional Officer Mark Robinson said: “The ballot result clearly demonstrated that our members still believe in the claim to be treated the same as estates workers directly employed by the NHS.

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“We urge Serco to do the honourable thing and treat their workers employed in Estates equally and fairly to avoid the need for this dispute to escalate further.”

Unite and Serco are still in talks to try to head off the action.

Contract director for Serco Health at the N&N, Martin Payne, said: “Patients do not need to be concerned about coming to the N&N on those dates for treatment. Patient safety is a high priority and we have contingency arrangements that we have developed with key departments within the trust and we also have the support of Unite in maintaining patient safety.”

Serco says it offered its staff a 2.5pc pay rise in April but is not able to offer an NHS-style deal. It has also offered to go to Acas to resolve the dispute.

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