Wakefield, Dewsbury and Pontefract: Pickets vent anger over pay cut plans by health chiefs

MEETING: Unison regional organiser Jim Bell addresses the gathering at Dewsbury Town Hall.

MEETING: Unison regional organiser Jim Bell addresses the gathering at Dewsbury Town Hall.

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Medical secretaries spoke of their anger at a hospital trust’s plans to slash wages as a three-day-strike got underway.

Union leaders at Unison say 150 striking hospital administrative workers were on picket lines outside hospitals at Wakefield, Dewsbury and Pontefract yesterday morning.

And dozens attended a Unison rally at Dewsbury Town hall yesterday afternoon.

They are protesting at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust’s plans to save £630,000 by axing 70 administration and clerical jobs and cutting the pay by ‘downbanding’ around 275 other staff.

Pinderfields Hospital medical secretary Karen Grimaldi, 59, of Wetherby said her annual £20,000 salary could be cut by 20 per cent.

The grandmother-of-one added: “This action will go on until the trust listen to us. I can’t afford to put petrol in my car to get to work. We struggle as it is.”

Andrea Busfield, 39, is a medical secretary in the cardiology unit at Pinderfields. She is striking for the first time in a 21-year NHS career amid fears her £17,500 salary could be cut by £2,500. She added: “I’m absolutely outraged. They have reduced the workforce and the ones left are going to be expected to pick up the same amount of work and then take a 20 per cent pay cut.”

Mid Yorkshire Unison branch secretary Adrian O’Malley said: “We are considering balloting all our 3,000 members at the trust for strike action if the trust doesn’t negotiate, withdraw downbanding and talk to us.”

The debt-hit trust faces a deficit of £26m by the end of the year.

Graham Briggs, the trust’s director of Human resources, said: “Our priority is to provide safe, high quality care for our patients, which is sustainable for the longer term.

“To do this we must have a workforce that is financially sustainable but which is also designed to best meet our service needs.”

The strike is due to end at midnight on Thursday. (Nov 22)