The outsourced workers were already angry at being paid less than NHS colleagues doing the same jobs; for being ignored for months when they complained; and for being given two chocolate fingers for keeping Covid wards safe while NHS-employed staff received more for doing the same job.
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They have now been told that a collective complaint lodged last May has been thrown out because NHS Trust bosses are looking at whether to keep the contract private or take it back in-house.
UNISON Regional Organiser Dale Ollier said: “The workers voted 97.8 per cent in favour of taking strike action in a consultative ballot.
“They hoped they could reach an amicable resolution, however, OCS deciding not to uphold the complaint for the reasons given is unfair and unacceptable.”
“OCS staff are understandably feeling increasingly frustrated at the existing two-tier system in place.
“We warned OCS that if the parties were unable to seek agreement, we would be prepared to pursue a formal ballot on industrial action. In the absence of any offer whatsoever to resolve this dispute, the workers have been left with no other choice.”
A spokesman for the the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Trust said: “We have regularly engaged with OCS and Unison to understand their positions and whether OCS intends to review the issues raised and seek a resolution for the staff employed by them.
“The facilities management contract was awarded part of a competitive and commercial process whereby the pay framework was, and remains the responsibility of the contractor (OCS). The current contract is due to expire in January 2023.
“We recognise the importance of this issue, which Unison have raised with OCS, and so we have accelerated work to review the contract and will be shortly making a decision on the future arrangements, which will go to Trust Board in March.
"This process will include a review of the pay framework associated with the contract and we understand that OCS have continued to work with staff to recognise their hard work during the pandemic.”
OCS was also contacted for comment.
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