Jun 21 2011 By Lawrence Poole
A FOUR-YEAR sick pay dispute by contract workers at Amersham Hospital could finally be coming to an end.
Medirest cleaning, catering and portering staff have been on strike three times in the last few months over their demands for sick pay and other terms and conditions given to their colleagues employed directly by the NHS.
Medirest workers main issue is over their statutory sick pay of £79.15 a week, compared with the full pay for at least one month NHS staff receive.
After a series of meetings in the last month it appears a breakthrough is on the cards.
Unison Bucks Health Branch secretary Steve Bell said: "There is a pay offer and three options, which includes a company sick pay scheme on the table.
"The company and the staff are now in negotiations and they have to decide whether to accept it."
Owned by food service and support services provider Compass, around 30 workers from Medirest have taken part in the strike action.
Mr Bell added: "It's a step in the right direction, if you look at other pay offers the company have made in other areas of the country it's one of the highest ones.
"Though there may be some difficult negotiations if the non-union staff and the union staff disagree on what option to take.
"We're also still in discussion about further actions on Agenda For Change (the NHS' terms and conditions)."
Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust spokesman Richard Burton said: "Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust has a long established outsourced contract with Medirest for facility management services provided to Amersham Hospital.
"We have been working in support of our business partners to ensure that a successful resolution comes to the fore, it is our common understanding that we are close to concluding an all round satisfactory settlement."
A decision is expected by end of next week.