By a health worker
UNISON members employed by private contractor Serco at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have decided to take their claim for NHS pay and conditions to arbitration with ACAS.
Serco had made a revised pay offer taking basic pay for porters, domestics and catering staff at the hospital to around £5.60 — a significant increase on their current £4.85 but a long way short of the union’s claim for full parity with the new NHS pay system, Agenda for Change, which would have brought in a system of annual incremental rises for all staff, together with extended annual leave and sick pay arrangements.
Private contractors in the NHS say they are not obliged to follow the introduction of Agenda for Change, while the union is putting in claims for Agenda for Change rates and conditions with all private contractors.
Although workers at Norwich may well feel that arbitration is the easiest way to secure a quick pay rise from Serco, the move to arbitration represents a retreat from the union’s previous position of planning strike action to win the full deal. It will now have to be seen whether the outcome of arbitration for Norwich undermines the union’s claims with Serco and the other private contractors nationally.
In the meantime, UNISON members working for private contractors in the NHS should push ahead with their own local action in support of the national claims for Agenda for Change rates.