Cleaners at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow will ballot on industrial action over bosses’ refusal to bin the privatisation of domestic services, UNISON says today.
UNISON has written to the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust today to formally declare an industrial dispute, warning that outsourcing cleaning services will be bad for staff and patients.
UNISON told the Trust it will begin the process of balloting its members on industrial action over the threatened change of employer.
Outsourcing cleaning services leads to higher infection rates and would create a two-tier workforce, with people paid different rates for doing the same job, UNISON says.
The Trust is currently market testing its domestic services as a precursor to putting the contract out to tender.
PAH cleaners have already received widespread public support in their fight to keep their jobs in the NHS. An online petition has attracted over 1,800 signatures and domestics gathered more than 1,000 names during a two-hour stall on Harlow’s broad walk on Saturday (23 March).
Local MP Robert Halfon has also written to the Trust urging it to reconsider outsourcing the domestic services.
UNISON Eastern regional organiser Caroline Hennessy said: “PAH cleaners have been left with no choice but to declare a dispute and step up their campaign in defence of their jobs and the service they provide.
“Trust bosses have been keen to say how much they value their domestic staff but they want to kick them out of the NHS family – they can ask PAH’s outsourced security staff if they feel valued.
“If they truly valued domestic staff they would have invested in the staff and services rather than offering up a new cash cow to the private sector.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the level of public support for keeping domestic services in house. The public understands, even if the Trust doesn’t, that outsourcing is worse for patients and staff alike.
“We again urge PAH to bin its privatisation plans. Our door is always open if the board wants to talk about how it can stop this ideologically driven outsourcing process and regain the trust of its staff.”