ON 14 May dozens of Unison members employed in catering, portering, cleaning and security by Medirest, part of Compass, staged a two-hour lunchtime protest at Barnet and Chase Farm NHS Trust, north London. They are fighting the continued failure of the Trust and privatised company to fully pay Agenda for Change terms agreed nearly 10 years ago.
The Trust has had the money to fund the wage rises, sick pay arrangements and other enhancements, but has directed its government funding elsewhere. Ten years of stalling, tinkering with the agreement, broken promises, even swapping the privatised service between contractors, have all resulted in some of the lowest-paid Trust workers carrying the bill.
Medirest is a wealthy section of Compass outsourcing, and workers are saying enough is enough. Supported by other NHS staff, they staged a disciplined protest, seeing off scaremongering tactics from the Trust over public disorder and disruption to patients. Services were maintained, Trust staff and public support harnessed and the employers made to look miserly and stupid. Further protests are planned in conjunction with other Barnet and Chase Farm staff on 5 June. ■