UNISON members employed by Sodexo in North Devon Hospital have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a consultative ballot. Helen Eccles, UNISON Regional Organiser, said: Our members have taken this step with extreme reluctance; however,

UNISON members employed by Sodexo in North Devon Hospital have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a consultative ballot.

Helen Eccles, UNISON Regional Organiser, said: "Our members have taken this step with extreme reluctance; however, they have lost patience with Northern Devon Heathcare Trust and Sodexo who have failed to fully implement a national agreement signed in 2005, which should have come into effect from October 1, 2006.

"Failure to implement this agreement has meant that our members have to take annual leave to have operations in the very hospital in which they work as they do not receive sick pay and cannot afford to be without pay on their already low incomes.

"UNISON members believe that they have been forced into this position by the inaction of the Trust and Sodexo."

The union said a meeting scheduled to take place September to discuss this issue was cancelled by the Trust. Similarly the Trust had agreed to discuss the implementation of the national document with UNISON in November, but once again this agreement was withdrawn.

Helen Eccles added: "Our members have lost faith in the Trust and Sodexo. They believe that they now have no option other than to demonstrate through a formal industrial action ballot that the Trust and Sodexo must take this issue seriously.

"Their patience has been exhausted by a three year wait. This is not a step our members wanted to take.