Private Contractor Staff

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2007 Health Care Service Group Conference
18 April 2007

Conference notes the ground-breaking deal made with the Government, NHS Employers, the Confederation of British Industry and the NHS Business Services Authority for Soft Facilities Management employees working for private contractors in October 2005. Following on from this similar agreements have been made in Scotland and Wales.

The Joint Protocol began the process of raising wages and conditions for the lowest-paid working in the NHS and making them ‘overall no less favourable’ than for directly employed staff. It also offers UNISON an excellent opportunity to recruit and organise the contractors’ workforce.

However, Conference notes that, despite the efforts of the Private Companies Unit, UNISON’s Health Group, regions and branches, many members have not benefited from the agreement. Conference is concerned that this framework agreement has not had a positive result in many trusts leaving many of our members still outside the benefits of agenda for change. A combination of reluctant Trusts and contractors has meant that there have been severe delays in the delivery of Parts A and B of the agreement. Conference recalls Composite O passed at last year’s Health group Conference which stated:

‘We are concerned that the Private Companies may exclude local representatives from the process of job evaluation on a company-wide basis.

We need to ensure that the partnership approach is enshrined within the private contractors, and that they are not allowed to ‘cherry pick’ parts of the agreement, and leave important issues like KSF out. This would prevent our members benefiting from the full potential of Agenda for Change.

We call upon the Service Group Executive and the national negotiators to ensure the agreement is upheld and applied and that our low paid members do not miss the opportunity to become a fully integrated member of the healthcare team.’

“and further recalls motion 24, also passed at the 2006 health group conference which said:

‘Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to develop and implement a strategy to campaign for the return of all contracted-out services back in-house, highlighting also the conditions under which some private contractor’s staff work – being required to provide their own equipment, and protecting clothing, etc.

‘The Service Group Executive should co-ordinate with verve and determination and dynamism, building on the work commenced in 2005 on the cleaners’ campaign. This campaign should have as an integral part, support for branches in building up membership among contracted-out staff, support for re-building union structures and organisations where these have been undermined or weakened through privatisation, and positive backing to ensure the implementation of the framework agreement on Agenda for Change for all privatised staff.’

Conference instructs the Health Service Group Executive to work with regions and branches to:

1.Monitor the progress of this work and publish to branches a progress report six months after the end of this conference and a further report to the 2008 Health Group Conference detailing what results have been achieved and what systems are in place to ensure full implementation of the deal for all our privatised members. Conference expects the reports to show a marked increase in campaigning activity and national support in the second half of the year to deal with those trusts and/or contractors who are shirking in their responsibilities to our members.

2.Contact all branches to establish if Agenda for Change framework agreement has been implemented for private contractor staff.

3.Hold meetings with the affected members;

4.Develop recruitment and organising programmes;

5.Write to Trusts and contractors insisting upon implementation of Parts A and B;

6.Request tripartite meetings with the Trusts and contractors;

7.Identify and inform the Private Companies Unit of the contractors engaged at their Trust;

8.Inform the Private Companies Unit whether Part A and Part B has been implemented by the Trust and contractors and if the parts have not been implemented to seek the reasons why;

9.Press the employers to include the implementation of Agenda for Change for Hard Facilities Management staff.

10.Target affected branches and where appropriate support effective industrial action campaigns.

Furthermore the Joint Protocol only covers Soft Facilities Management staff and Conference instructs the Service Group Executive and the Private Companies Unit to negotiate further ‘two-tier workforce’ agreements that will cover any NHS employees that have been transferred or will face transfer to the private or voluntary sector.