Hundreds of outsourced porters, catering, domestic and security staff in Northumbria are to get the same pension as NHS workers after a year of negotiations, says UNISON today (Thursday).
Many of the employees at private firm Northumbria Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd (NHFML) – a wholly owned subsidiary company set up by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – had previously been prevented from joining the NHS pension scheme.
Colleagues with longer service who had originally been employed in the health service were able to keep their NHS pensions when they transferred to NHFML.
But anyone who joined the company after its creation had to sign-up to an inferior scheme, which attracted only half the employer contributions of the NHS pension, says UNISON.
Following a year of talks between UNISON and NHFML and a recent NHS rule change, NHFML can apply to make the NHS scheme the pension provider for all its workers.
Commenting on the breakthrough UNISON Northern regional secretary Clare Williams said: “It’s great to see NHFML recognise the value of its staff and be so keen to see the back of such an unfair and divisive pension system.
“To its credit NHFML has honoured the contracts of all the staff who transferred to it from the NHS, including granting them the same three year pay award given to health service staff. NHFML has shown it’s committed to looking after any company’s most valuable resource, the people who work for it.”
Managing director at NHFML Damon Kent said: “NHFML is proud to be part of the NHS family and is absolutely delighted to be able to make an application for all our staff – whoever they are and whenever they joined – to become part of the NHS pension scheme.
“Our staff perform vital tasks each and every day – often in very difficult circumstances – without them the wider NHS trust simply couldn’t function. That’s why we want to provide our staff with the same opportunities and choices as any other NHS employee.”