Your news story on the industrial dispute at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff (page 5, 11 June) mentioned that Sterile Services International did not have a representative in the UK. SSI is a UK company, and has had a fully staffed head office in Cardiff for 18 months.
Following issue of a private finance initiative certificate from the Welsh Office confirming that our bid to provide sterile services to the UHW trust was compliant, and that there had been a significant transfer of risk to the private sector, the contract was signed on 22 May. TUPE regulations will apply to the staff transfer, and SSI is contractually committed for the lifetime of the contract to preserve existing terms and conditions.
Staff will not have to re-apply for their jobs. We have also bound the company to give an annual pay increase, not less than the equivalent rate that the relevant Whitley Council awards to similar NHS staff.
The current dispute concerns a long-standing pay and conditions anomaly in the trust whereby sterile services staff on two different sites are paid at different rates and enjoy different conditions. The trust agreed the principle of a harmonisation exercise with Unison several months ago.
However, the staff have been persuaded to take industrial action over the issue of pay and conditions harmonisation. The dispute is between Unison and the trust; SSI is not involved and it would be inappropriate for us to participate in or comment on these discussions. SSI will honour the outcome of the negotiations between Unison and the trust, and it is obliged to do so both contractually and in law.
SSI has arranged a meeting with Unison to discuss matters of mutual interest.
General manager - UK operations
Sterile Services International