OCS workers win!

Fifty health workers employed by the contractor OCS at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Trust have won their strike. They have been taking strike action from June and in late September into early October went out on 12 days of strikes.

They are cleaners, caterers and porters working in Blackpool and Blackburn. They demanded proper sick pay and extra money for working unsocial hours, and weekend pay in line with workers in the same hospitals directly employed by the NHS. Those workers receive their hourly rate plus 44% on Saturdays, or plus 88% on Sundays, whereas the OCS staff received only the hourly rate of £10.19. Sick pay provided by OCS was the statutory £96 a week, which forced workers to come into work when ill.

OCS is an outsourcing contractor owned by a hedge fund based in the USA which also owns the Morrison supermarkets. They dug in their heels about agreeing to the demands of the workers.

Now thanks to the determination of the workers, OCS finally buckled and agreed to the demands after a two year campaign and 26 days of strikes. They agreed to a 14.7% pay rise backdated to April, in line with NHS pay; 7 days extra annual leave; full parity with NHS sick pay arrangements; and enhanced pay on bank holidays.