Staff working in hospitals in Ashford, Canterbury, Dover and Margate across jobs in support services, including estates, portering, catering, cleaning, laundry and health and safety were told of the plan today (Wednesday 9 May). 

Unite understands that the subsidiary company called ‘2gether Support Solutions’ will be controlled by East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust. The current director of estates Finn Murray is heading up the new company as managing director, but today refused to commit to guaranteeing continued recognition with Unite and other unions in the new private company.  

The transfer of the 850 Serco and 250 direct employees, mainly from the Trust’s estates and support services sections, is set to take place on 1 August 2018.   

Commenting Unite regional officer Kathy Walters said: “This plan is a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ with the prime aim of cutting costs and eroding NHS workers’ pay, terms and conditions. 

“Rather than bringing Serco workers back in-house, East Kent Hospital bosses are seeking to avoid paying nationally agreed NHS pay rates by setting up an arms-length company and transferring long-serving direct employees into it. 

“It is an underhand way to treat hospital staff who play an invaluable role in delivering the best possible patient care to the communities of East Kent.  

“Unite has successfully campaigned to stop the outsourcing of estates and other staff in the past and we fully intend to do so again.  

“In the coming days we will be working with our partner trade unions to consult with members, patient groups and concerned members of the public on taking forward a campaign to stop what is effectively privatisation via the back door.” 

ENDS 

For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.  

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.