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20 August 2003

Fair pay for NHS chefs demand as UNISON launches NHS Food for Good Charter

UNISON Scotland, the public service union, is today lodging pay claims with NHS Trusts across Scotland to end the historic low pay and undervaluing of NHS chefs and associated staff.

The claim seeks £331.02 per week for qualified chefs. This is the same rate of pay as a plumber gets in the NHS.

In addition UNISON is launching a 10 point NHS Food for Good charter which seeks to ensure that the spending power of Scotland's biggest food buyer is used to improve the food economy and health of Scotland, whilst fulfilling its social and environmental responsibilities.

The charter covers Organic Food; Animal Welfare; Meat Quality; Fair Trade; 5 Portions a Day; Recycling/Composting; Patients not Profit; Resources; Real Food; and Fair Pay.

Simon Macfarlane, UNISON Lead Officer for Ancillary workers said: "The vital contribution chefs make to the NHS and improving patient health is completely unrecognised by NHS Trusts, some Trusts only pay chefs £5.34 an hour despite having three years training. Yet they pay plumbers £8.83 per hour. The vocational qualifications for plumbers and chefs are at the same level yet there is a huge disparity in pay. We don't think it is coincidental that there is this discrepancy between the pay of cooks and plumbers. Of 360 cooks in the NHS in Scotland 254 are women, yet of 139 plumbers none are women."

Lilian Macer, a chef working in the NHS, and Vice Chair of UNISON's Scottish Ancillary Sector Cttee said " Our campaign is about addressing the historic low pay of chefs in the NHS. But it is also about our members campaigning pro-actively to improve the service they provide to patients. Hospital food is often the butt of jokes, but our members want to turn NHS catering into a world leader. One that benefits patients' health, improves the diets of tens of thousands of workers and significantly improves the food economy for all.

"We are therefor calling on the people of Scotland to help us petition the Scottish Parliament in support of our NHS Food for Good Charter and fair pay for Chefs and associated staff, whether they work for the NHS directly or for a contractor."


Note to Editors: The Food for Good Charter and more information about the campaign can be found at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/nhs/chefs/charter.html

For Further Information Please Contact: Simon Macfarlane (Lead Officer - Ancillaries) - 0845 355 0845(o) 07931 365 263(m) Lilian Macer (Vice Chair Ancillary Sector Cttee)- 01698 366674(o) 07986 255956(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)