Buckinghamshire hospital workers strike over pay

A hospital cleaner mopping a floor Unison said contract staff do not receive the same pay and conditions as those employed by the NHS

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More than 180 workers are on strike at two hospitals in Buckinghamshire.

The porters, caterers and cleaners are employed by Compass-Medirest at Wycombe and Amersham hospitals, run by Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

Unison said they had been fighting since 2006 for the basic NHS pay rate and standardised terms and conditions such as sick and holiday pay.

Compass-Medirest is contracted by the NHS trust and said it would ensure services continued during the action.

A spokeswoman said: "We are naturally disappointed with this decision.

"Our duty of care to patients remains paramount and during strike action we will ensure that we maintain the high standards of cleaning, safety and patient dining expected from Medirest and the trust.

"We have good relationships with both Unison and the trust and we are in ongoing discussions with them to resolve this matter and seek a satisfactory conclusion for all parties."

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis addressed a rally of workers in High Wycombe town centre.

He said before the meeting: "Buckinghamshire is one of the wealthiest areas in the UK, but Compass-Medirest workers and their families are left struggling to make ends meet - £6.35 per hour leaves staff getting just £20 a week above benefit levels, and high inflation and rising bills are piling on the pressure."

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