North West hospital strikes end as UNISON reaches settlement

Agreement brings significant pay rise for outsourced health workers

UNISON and private company Compass, which employs hundreds of staff at Blackpool Victoria, Whiston and St Helens hospitals, have reached an agreement to end the long-running dispute over wages and sick pay.

Before the settlement, Compass employees were on the national minimum wage (£8.21 per hour), while colleagues employed directly by the NHS were earning at least £9.03. This meant Compass staff were losing out to the tune of around £1,500 a year.

Staff were understandably angry they weren’t receiving the same pay and benefits as NHS colleagues, often doing similar jobs, says UNISON. Following the vote for industrial action in July, Compass staff went on strike for a total of 14 days.

The UNISON-brokered deal – overwhelmingly accepted by the workers – means they’ll now receive a significant pay rise, more money for working weekends and bank holidays, and improved sick pay.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Christmas will be even more special this year for these staff who’ve been battling for months just to be treated fairly. There can be no justification for creating a divisive two-tier health service.

“The big winners will be staff and patients, who’ll be pleased Compass has finally put people before profits.”

UNISON North West regional organiser Pat Woolham said: “This substantial pay rise will make a huge difference to the families of these dedicated hospital workers. The positive end to this campaign shows what can be achieved when unions and employers work together.

“It’s been a tough dispute but we look forward to working with Compass in the future for the benefit of patients and staff.”

Notes to editors:
– Compass employs domestics at Blackpool Victoria, and cleaners, caterers, porters, security and reception staff at Whiston and St Helens.
– UNISON balloted employees on whether to accept Compass’ offer – 89% at Blackpool Victoria voted in favour, while 75% at Whiston and St Helens did so.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Anthony Barnes T: 020 7121 5255 M: 07834 864794 E:
Pat Woolham M: 07958 121 941 E:
Lisa Oxbury M: 07908 711096 E: