A BITTER dispute between a hospital Trust and its workers shows no signs of abating as further, continuous strike action is confirmed.

More than 300 staff who work in the estates, facilities and clinical departments at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which includes the Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital, are currently embroiled in a two-week strike against plans to create a ‘wholly-owned subsidiary company’.

The Unison union fears the transfer will strip workers, including porters, domestic and security staff, of the protections they have as NHS employees.

The Trust has denied it is privatising services and says the new company is the “best way of continuing to provide high quality care for patients”.

The industrial action began last Thursday and follows a week-long strike in July.

But there appears to be no end in sight, with Unison saying the Trust is refusing to change its position.

Continuous strike action will begin from Monday, August 26, as the row rumbles on.

John Cade shared these pictures of the picket line with the Telegraph & Argus and described the atmosphere as “very warm”, with a “beautiful feeling of community and together”.

However, one person, who wished to remain anonymous, raised some concern about the behaviour of the striking workers, alleging that people were being intimidated.

They claimed that earlier in the strike, public toilets kept getting blocked and toilet paper holders were ripped off the walls.

They alleged that one woman who was not on strike had a bottle of water thrown at her and that noise made by those on strike has caused distress to patients and families.

Natalie Ratcliffe, Unison Regional Organiser, said: “We have not received any official complaints.

“The police have been around and never approached us, which I assume they would if people had been threatening.

“I am in contact with the Trust on a daily basis should there be any issues.

"We have been asked to lower the noise a couple of times and we have adhered to this.”

Sandra Shannon, Deputy Chief Executive at the Trust, said in a statement: “We continue to engage with Unison and discuss options with them to reach agreement to bring the industrial action to an end.

“We are committed to giving every member of staff the security of their existing NHS terms and conditions for 25 years and we are currently exploring all legal options available to lock this guarantee.

“The Trust recognises the rights of its staff to take part in lawful industrial action and to peacefully picket by standing outside their normal place of work.

“We have asked colleagues on the picket lines to be mindful that some wards are close by and that rest and sleep are an important part of recovery for our patients.

"It is therefore disappointing that on several occasions there has been a high level of noise, and we have received complaints from patients and their families."

She added: “Staff who are on strike are still trust employees and should bear in mind the codes of conduct and policies which are part of their professional and employment requirements.

"If anyone is found to be acting inappropriately we will look into it and take disciplinary action as necessary.

“Our top priority during this period is to ensure the hospital can continue to operate effectively and to keep patients safe, and we hope that all colleagues will respect that.”

The hospital trust said that as of Friday, August 9, it had not received notification of further industrial action from Unison.

It has previously said the new company, Bradford Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd, will "always be 100 per cent owned by the NHS" and it will never sell it off.

The Trust has said staff will have their membership of the NHS pension scheme protected, with terms and conditions also protected, and it will look to match the annual NHS pay awards to existing staff.

It says it has also taken an additional step by offering terms and conditions for new starters that are comparable to the Agenda for Change terms that existing staff will transfer on.