GMB celebrate huge victory as long campaign to stop privatisation at Frimley NHS ends in success

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"The NHS should not be privatised, not now. Not ever. Full stop", say GMB Union

GMB, the union at Frimley NHS Foundation Trust, are delighted at news that the Trust has finally confirmed an end to their proposed Wholly Owned Subsidiary (WOS) privatisation plan.

The Trust has today held meetings with facility staff to confirm that the long-term threat to privatise services through the creation of the WOS have been stopped.

GMB members took industrial action in 2019 over the trusts intention to privatise non-clinical services and transfer more than 1,000 housekeepers, porters, maintenance, cleaning, and catering staff to their own privately owned company.  take Strike dates in 2019 were suspended by GMB in good faith to allow discussions to take place. GMB members agreed in 2020 to suspend further strike dates in good faith whilst continuing discussions to stop the WOS.

Negotiations were further paused during the pandemic as GMB members threatened by privatisation put differences aside to concentrate on fighting covid and protecting patient safety.

GMB, the union for all NHS staff, has continued to talk with the Trust to ensure that any unilateral progression of ‘WOS’ plans ceased throughout covid whilst continuing to explore other options.

The most recent of these talks was earlier in March 2021, and saw GMB again writing to the Chief Executive Neil Dardis [copy attached] pointing out the fantastic work GMB members were carrying out during the covid pandemic, and seeking clarification that as a result the trust should finally remove the cloud of privatisation as a show of thanks to a hard-working NHS team.

Asia Allison GMB Regional Organiser said: “This is fantastic news. GMB members who simply refused to accept being privatised have finally seen the threat of being transferred out of the NHS to a wholly owned subsidiary stopped.

“It would appear that in doing so the trust has finally accepted that recent events during the covid crisis have shown the real value of these staff rather than their value as commodities, and that appears to be the justification to cancel any WOS.

“GMB have always been clear that this dispute was about an NHS Trust wanting to create a £11.7 million surplus, or as the private sector would call it ‘profit’ through outsourcing. GMB members organised themselves as the biggest union within the facilities department to protect both their future and the Trust’s NHS future.

“However, the work does not stop here. The trust will claim the financial situation has not changed and that they will be looking at more efficient ways of working once we return to some sort of post covid normality. GMB will be there and ready when they want to talk.”

Gary Palmer GMB Regional Organiser said: “FHFT stopping this privatisation process is a clear sign to all other NHS trusts thinking the same: that determined NHS staff throughout the country will fight to keep themselves within the NHS.

“GMB will remain vigilant as always on behalf of our members and lead the defence of NHS jobs whenever required. In the meantime, at a time when good news within a severely under-pressure NHS is in short supply, our members should rightly congratulate themselves for a fight well fought.  We congratulate our reps and members on a result that recognises their true value within the NHS.

“We now send a message to the government who have just tabled an appalling pay offer of 1%.  Our members don’t just lie down and accept your terms.  We are a fighting union, and we’re coming for you next!”

“The NHS should not be privatised, not now. Not ever. Full stop.”