Scarborough and Bridlington Hospital staff vote for 48-hour strike

Scarborough and Bridlington Hospitals
Scarborough and Bridlington Hospitals

Dozens of workers at Scarborough and Bridlington hospitals will walk out for two days later this month in a dispute over changes to their employment contract.

Trade union Unite says York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust wants to transfer the workers to a wholly owned subsidiary designed to avoid paying tax.

After a week-long ballot, 92% of members voted for a strike, and the porters, cleaners and estates team will take action from 6am on Thursday, September 27.

Unite says it is concerned that trusts are forming these wholly owned subsidiary companies in England so that they can register for VAT exemption and compete on a level playing field with commercial competitors who register for VAT exemption for their work in the NHS, when NHS trusts can’t.

Its lead officer for health in Yorkshire, Chris Daly said: “We have received a very impressive mandate from our members for industrial action and, as a result, they will strike for 48 hours between September 27-29.

“The vote showed that our members wish to remain delivering vital public services – they are not prepared to let that public sector ethos slip away.

“If there is an emergency during the week of industrial action, our members will, of course, respond in a responsible fashion and put patient safety first.

“We are still seeking an undertaking from York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust that it agrees to continue to employ all our members and not transfer them to this new subsidiary with all the negative connotations that will flow from that decision.

“We hope today’s ballot result concentrates the management’s minds and we can sit down for constructive talks before industrial action commences. We call upon the trust to rethink its flawed proposed business model.

“We are strongly against the formation of these entities which, we believe, could lead to a Pandora’s Box of Carillion-type meltdowns – with the adverse knock-on effects on patient services and jobs.

“Our members consider that the identity of their employer is a condition of their contract of employment and do not wish that being changed unilaterally, as is proposed in this case.

“They have a strong desire to remain employed by the trust and not to be employed by this subsidiary - York Teaching Hospital Facilities Management LLP – which has been set up with the purpose to avoid tax."