Snowy strikers man hospital picket lines in Barnstaple

PICKET lines of workers have spent a snowy morning outside North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple today (Tuesday) as they begin a 48 hour strike over pay and conditions. Groups of staff employed by contractor Sodexo at the hospital, who carry out por

PICKET lines of workers have spent a snowy morning outside North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple today (Tuesday) as they begin a 48 hour strike over pay and conditions.

Groups of staff employed by contractor Sodexo at the hospital, who carry out portering, cleaning and catering duties among others, took to the picket line outside after last minute negotiations between their union Unison, Northern Devon Healthcare Trust and Sodexo, fell through yesterday.

Groups of workers bearing placards gathered in the snow outside the hospital this morning, calling on passing drivers to sound their horns in support.

The 48 hour strike began at one minute past midnight this morning and is expected to include all Unison Sodexo members employed at Northern Devon Healthcare, numbered at just over 200.


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The dispute centres on a national agreement called Agenda for Change, brought in by the government in October 2006 and which Unison says should be honoured by the trust, bringing Sodexo staff in line with the NHS standard.

The trust pledged on Monday to keep the hospital running as smoothly as possible during the strike action. It said admissions and out patient clinics would continue to go ahead as normal under "internal contingency plans."

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The sides are due to meet again on Thursday for more negotiations.

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