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Princess Alexandra Hospital cleaners set dates for strikes after 99% vote back action

Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow. Exterior pics. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (10995166)
Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow. Exterior pics. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (10995166)

Cleaners at Princess Alexandra Hospital are to strike for a total of six days over "insulting" outsourcing plans.

In all, 99% of the domestics at the Harlow hospital backed industrial action on an 84% turnout in a ballot. They will walk out for 24 hours on Thursday, June 6, the date of the next meeting of the PAH board.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust claims it is still market-testing the service and will not be able to make a decision on outsourcing until at least August, but trade union UNISON says it should ditch the whole process immediately.

If the hospital refuses to stop outsourcing, the cleaners will stage a 48-hour strike on June 11-12 and then walk out for 72 hours on June 18-20.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Caroline Hennessy said: "These loyal domestics have had the threat of being sold out of the NHS hanging over their heads for far too long.

"Princess Alexandra bosses have offered warm words about how much they value their staff but their actions are nothing short of insulting.

"They've had months to admit that this whole exercise has been a damaging mistake, but instead they've just told staff they're going to be left in limbo until the middle of summer or beyond.

"None of these workers want to go on strike, but their commitment to their patients, their hospital and their NHS has left them with no choice.

"Princess Alexandra Hospital can bring this whole dispute to an end with one phone call and a promise that it will keep its domestic services in house."

Almost 3,000 people have signed a petition asking hospital managers to reconsider. The PAH trust employs about 2,900 whole-time equivalent staff and, as well as the general hospital in Harlow, it operates outpatient and diagnostic services from Herts and Essex Hospital in Bishop's Stortford, St Margaret's Hospital in Epping and Cheshunt Community Hospital.

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