Harvey urges talks on hospital sick pay dispute

MP Nick Harvey has met with Unison representatives to discuss the risk of strike action by hundreds of Sodexo s support staff at North Devon District Hospital. The union is angry that the Northern Devon Healthcare Trust has failed to implement a nationa

MP Nick Harvey has met with Unison representatives to discuss the risk of strike action by hundreds of Sodexo's support staff at North Devon District Hospital.

The union is angry that the Northern Devon Healthcare Trust has failed to implement a national agreement giving Sodexo staff the right to sick pay.

Mr Harvey said: "Agenda for Change was negotiated for the whole NHS in October 2004 and extended to ancillary workers and contractors in October 2006.

"I fully understand why our local hospital Trust has delayed implementation, given the financial constraints within which they operate.


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"But sooner or later they will have to bite the bullet and follow other Trusts up and down the country in implementing it in full. With a strike looming from 28 December 28, now is that moment.

"Hospital workers are entitled to the same sick pay and holiday pay as everyone else in the NHS. I am concerned by accounts that some workers even cancel their own operations because they cannot afford the convalescent period without sick pay. There are others with sickness bugs or flu symptoms who are not taking the 48 hours they should because they simply cannot afford the time off.

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"I understand that NDDH recently gave staff the H1N1 swine flu injection, but not Sodexo staff. These are key workers who are on the front line coming into regular contact with patients. It is a very dangerous situation for them and for patients. Unison national officials tell me that they have never heard of any other hospital taking this extraordinary view on a crucial health issue.

"I would urge the two sides to enter into full discussions and do everything possible to avoid strike action which could disrupt the hospital badly.

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