A LONG-RUNNING dispute between hospital staff and their employer has come to an end after a deal over new pay conditions has been agreed.

The UNISON union and private company Compass, which employs cleaners, caterers, porters, security and reception staff at Whiston and St Helens Hospitals, have reached an agreement to end the long-running dispute over wages and sick pay.

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Before the settlement Compass employees were on the national minimum wage (£8.21 per hour), while colleagues employed directly by the NHS were earning at least £9.03.

This meant Compass staff were losing out to the tune of around £1,500 a year.

UNISON said staff were understandably angry that they weren’t receiving the same pay and benefits as NHS colleagues often doing similar jobs, says UNISON.

Following the vote for industrial action in July, Compass staff went on five rounds of strikes, totalling 14 days.

UNISON says it has brokered a deal, which has been voted for by 75 per cent of the hospital staff which means workers will now receive "a significant pay rise, more money for working weekends and Bank Holidays and an improved sick pay scheme".

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Christmas will be even more special for these staff who’ve been battling for months to be treated fairly. There can be no justification for creating a divisive two-tier health service.

“The big winners from the settlement will be staff and patients, who’ll be pleased to learn that Compass has put people before profits.”

UNISON North West regional organiser Lisa Oxbury added: “This substantial pay rise will make a huge difference to the families of these dedicated hospital workers. The positive end to this campaign shows what can be achieved when unions and employers work together.

“It’s been a tough dispute but we look forward to working with Compass in the future for the benefit of patients and staff in St Helens.”

A spokesperson for Medirest, of Compass, said: “People are the very foundation of our business and we are pleased that through ongoing dialogue and working closely with our NHS Trust clients, UNISON and our employees we have reached a resolution.

"Supporting hospitals deliver the best patient care is always at the heart of what we do and we remain committed to delivering the highest standards of service at these hospitals.”