Agreement reached in Barnstaple hospital dispute

THERE will be a rally in the Square in Barnstaple tomorrow (Saturday) following the successful conclusion of the dispute between striking hospital staff and health bosses. Negotiations yesterday finally broke the deadlock between Unison, Northern Devon He

THERE will be a rally in the Square in Barnstaple tomorrow (Saturday) following the successful conclusion of the dispute between striking hospital staff and health bosses.

Negotiations yesterday finally broke the deadlock between Unison, Northern Devon Healthcare Trust and Sodexo management, after an agreement was reached on union demands for sick pay and better rates for the Sodexo cleaners, cooks and porters employed at the hospital.

The month of dispute culminated in a 48-hour strike by the 200 plus Unison members at the hospital last week.

They had been calling for the trust and Sodexo to honour a 2006 national agreement which was to have brought terms and conditions for contracted staff in line with their NHS counterparts.


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The trust had offered to introduce sick pay from January 1 but this was rejected and although the sides met several times, overseen by the conciliation service ACAS, no agreement was reached until now.

No details of the agreement have been released as yet.

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Unison says tomorrow's rally in the Square between 12.30-1.30pm is to celebrate the union movement, demonstrate the relevance of unions in the world today and thank members for their continued commitment.

General secretary Dave Prentis will congratulate everyone involved in the recent dispute for achieving a successful outcome.

There will also be a number of speakers, including Mr Prentis and other Unison officers, local surgeon John Riddington-Young, the Mayor of Bideford, Councillor Andy Powell and Doris Dibble from the Barnstaple League of Friends.

Helen Eccles, the UNISON South West regional organiser leading negotiations with Sodexo and the trust, said:

"Our members demonstrated the strength of their commitment over the last few months, including one member who walked six miles to reach the picket line through the freezing conditions.

"This rally is our way of saying thank you for your commitment to our stewards, our members, and their friends and family. It is also an opportunity for members of the public in Barnstaple to come along and find out more about UNISON and trade unions."

The face painting and refreshments, and the release of 168 biodegradable helium balloons representing the number of weeks the union says staff have waited for the national Agenda for Change terms and conditions to be implemented.

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