NHS workers across Yorkshire & the Humber are pushing forward the battle against outsourcing with a ballot on industrial action.
A growing number of hospital trusts in England are attempting to create wholly owned subsidiary companies to run facilities services such as portering, cleaning, laundry and catering.
Trusts claim this is to exploit a tax loophole, but NHS union Unison warns that the outsourcing inevitably leads to attacks on wages, working conditions and pensions.
Sixteen Labour MPs have signed a parliamentary petition against the move, warning it amounts to “backdoor privatisation.”
Unison has now opened a consultative ballot of members working at Harrogate, Huddersfield, Mid-Yorkshire, Airedale and Bradford NHS trusts to see if they are willing to strike against the measures.
If they return a Yes this time round, the union will launch a full-scale strike ballot.
Unison regional head of health Tony Pearson said: “Members are understandably scared of these companies because they know that privatisation threatens the existence of the NHS.
“Unison has relentlessly warned of the grave dangers of privatisation and the recent collapse of Carillion with the loss of more than 20,000 jobs is a wake-up call for us all.
“Our members see industrial action as a last resort, but they are angry that they could be forced to leave a service they devote their lives to because of cuts to pensions, pay and other working conditions.
“They know that these plans will also damage the quality of patient care and play a key role in the government’s privatisation strategy for the whole of the NHS.”
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