More than 70 Lincolnshire health visitors are being balloted for strike action as the long running pay dispute escalates with county council bosses trying to ‘divide and rule’ over future job roles.
Unite said the new ballot would not only involve the health visitors who have been denied legitimate pay rises by the council since October 2017, but health visitors on the lower grade 9 and higher grade 10.
The ballot opens on Friday 11 October and closes on Friday 25 October.
They have already taken action on 32 days since July with the loss of around 450 shifts.
The dispute began over health visitors having lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS, but Unite says it has now taken up the council’s insistence on different contracts for grade 9 and grade 10 health visitors.
Unite argues that as all health visitors have the same community nurse qualifications, the same workplace training, and their role is equivalent to a grade 10 job role, and should therefore be graded and paid accordingly.
Unite regional officer Steve Syson said: “This dispute has now escalated due to the fact that the council has provocatively divided the health visitor role into two separate jobs.
Divide and rule
“This tawdry ‘divide and rule’ sleight-of-hand manoeuvre from this cash rich council, with a surplus of £188m for 2018/19, needs to be exposed.
“I hope all our members fully support this ballot, because, if they don’t vote to take action, they will be accepting the division of the role and for those that don’t move onto a grade 10 it will mean a loss of £4,000 per year, which is totally unacceptable.”
Unite said that the county council’s continual refusal to negotiate constructively since strike action originally commenced in the summer was having an adverse impact on Lincolnshire families with babies and young children.
“The council’s blinkered action has already led to some of our very experienced members leaving their job to seek alternative employment where their qualifications are better respected and this drift will continue.”
The strikers have launched a crowd-funding appeal to help alleviate hardship.
Compass staff strike again
Around 300 staff employed by private contractor Compass within NHS trusts in St Helens and Blackpool have also taken three days of strike action – angered by the company’s failure to match health service pay rates and working conditions.
UNISON has condemned Compass for silencing its workers, after the firm disciplined hospital workers at St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust who had spoken out about low pay. UNISON regional organiser Pat Woolham said:
“It’s plain that Compass is aiming to silence the strikers and suppress staff in an attempt to force them back to work. But the strikers are united, determined and will take further action if necessary.” The September action was the third round of action on the issue by these hospital workers.
More strikes have been called for 14/16/18/20/22/24 October
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