Workers at NHS sites across Lancashire including those in Accrington, Blackburn and Rossendale have announced four further strike dates.

The 50 workers include porters, catering staff and cleaners at hospitals, mental health units and clinics in Blackburn, Blackpool, Ormskirk and Preston.

The workers are employed by private healthcare facilities firm OCS and are asking for the same pay and holidays as NHS colleagues doing the same jobs.

They staged a 72-hour strike at the end of June and will be walking out again on July 26 and 27 and on 31 July and 1 August. The workers voted 93.2% in favour of strike action.

UNISON says the strikes will escalate throughout the summer unless OCS and Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust agrees to a range of conditions including back-dating the correct rate of pay and paying NHS rates for nights, weekends and Bank Holidays work.

UNISON Regional Organiser Dale Ollier said: “These are NHS workers contracted out to a company that makes millions in profit each year. What they are asking for is both affordable and fair.

“No-one wants to see services disrupted, but OCS and Trust managers need to make sure workers doing the same job are treated the same. NHS Trusts should not be outsourcing services to avoid the pay and conditions that have been agreed nationally for all NHS staff.

“These workers have sent two letters offering to meet with Trust Board members to explain their plight, but so far no-one has taken them up on their offer”.

Before the previous strike, several workers wrote an open letter to Trust Chief Executive Caroline Donovan to ask her to intervene to settle the dispute.

In their most recent letter, the workers said: “We love the NHS and we are proud to say that we are part of it. We are also proud to have played our part on the front line during the Covid-19 pandemic, keeping services open and patients safe.

“But we don’t understand why we’re not treated the same as everybody else. It’s hard coming into work knowing we are not valued in the same way.”

Sites affected include Royal Blackburn Hospital, Daisyfield Mill Clinic and the Mount Clinic in Accrington, the Harbour and Wesham Rehabilitation Units in Blackpool, Preston’s Guild Park Hospital, Ormskirk and District General Hospital and Balladen House in Rossendale.