Hundreds of hospital workers are once again on strike today as the second round of industrial action over moving them to a controversial new company began.
The 48-hour walk-out called over shifting estates and facilities employees to wholly-owned firm WWL Solutions began at 6am.
Picket lines are operating today outside Wigan Infirmary, Leigh Infirmary and Wrightington Hospital.
Protestors will also be outside the Wigan Lane facility tomorrow from 6am until 11am, when there will be a march to the tow centre for a noon rally in Believe Square.
Staff taking part spoke of why they have chosen to down tools once more.
Terry Knowles, a 57-year-old porter from Springfield, said: “Management says it’s not privatisation but if you look at the Companies House website WWL
Solutions is listed as a private limited company. It says what it is on the tin.
“The vast majority of staff are against the WWL Solutions plan and we are all determined to see this through.
“We care about the patients and this strike is a last resort to try to get management to change their mind. I hope the public of Wigan know that, and that they get behind us.”
Political supporters of the strike include Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, who last month promised to support staff for “as long as it takes” to defeat the WWL Solutions idea.
Trade unions say there is no legal way for hospital bosses to make guarantees about pay, pensions and working conditions. Opponents have also raised fears about a two-tier NHS workforce. The strike runs until 6am on Sunday.
WWL has reassured patients it will do all it can to minimise issues and ensure hospitals run smoothly and safely but is asking residents to bear with staff during the strike period as volunteers will be stepping into some roles.
Shops and dining rooms will be closed on all sites but vending machines will be working and snack trollies will give food and drink to patients, visitors and staff.
Patients are also encouraged to use alternative venues for treatment such as GPs surgeries, walk-in centres and pharmacies wherever possible, only visiting A&E for serious or life-threatening emergencies.