Hundreds of Sodexho workers were celebrating this week after winning an industrial dispute over terms and conditions in a Glasgow hospital.
About 300 workers, including 50 caterers, were due to stage a three-day walkout for the third week running at the 500-bed Glasgow Royal Infirmary this week.
But the action was called off after Sodexho agreed to pay them £5 an hour, backdated to 1 April. The workers previously received either £4.20, £4.32 or £4.67 an hour.
The deal also means that staff who have worked at the hospital for more than five years will get a sick-pay rate of three months' full pay and three months' half pay, instead of the previous three weeks' full pay.
Overtime workers will be paid at the rate of time-and-a-half, as opposed to time-and-a-quarter, and shift workers, those who work between 7pm and 9am or at weekends, will get a 20% shift allowance.
Unison, the public sector union, negotiated the deal on behalf of the workers. It said they were "ecstatic" about the result, which brings their terms and conditions in line with those offered to NHS employees.
Unison branch secretary Carolyn Leckie said: "This demonstrates that it is no longer acceptable for a private company to come in and make profits on the back of its workers."
She added: "I think this will give confidence to Sodexho workers at other hospitals to pursue claims."
A Sodexho spokesman said: "Sodexho is pleased the deal has been accepted and is happy to welcome its workers back." He said it was an "isolated deal".
by Louise Bozec and Christina Golding
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 15-21 August 2002