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Hospital workers to stage walkout over wage cuts

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  • by Mark Lavery
 

Hundreds of hospital workers are set to walk out on strike next Thursday in protest at pay cuts.

Medical secretaries, receptionists and clerks are among staff at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs hositals in Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury – are set to strike on November 1.

Union leaders say more drastic strike action will follow unless hospital managers backtrack on plans to cut 275 workers’ pay.

Last week Unison said of around 500 administration and clerical staff balloted, 88 per cent voted in favour of strike action and 96 per cent voted in favour of action short of strike action.

Chiefs at the debt-hit trust are seeking to save £630,000 by axing up to 70 posts and ‘downbanding’ 275 jobs as they seek to make savings of £24m this year.

Union leaders say they accept the trust’s pledge that there will be no compulsory redundancies. But Mid Yorkshire Unison branch Secretary Adrian O’Malley said his members are “very angry” at the trust’s plans to cut the pay of more than 200 clerical staff by £2,000 to £3,000.

Mr O’Malley said receptionists’ pay will be cut from £19,079 to £17,253 and clerks’ wages slashed from £21,798 to £19,077.

Unison regional organiser Jim Bell said: “Management’s way of dealing with the financial crisis is to slash and burn pay terms and conditions. We will have pickets out at Dewsbury, Wakefield and Pontefract. Hundreds will go out on strike. If we get a good turnout and management don’t move then we will be looking to escalate this significantly. The next strike won’t be a one-dayer.”

Graham Briggs, the trust’s director of human resources, said: “We are disappointed with the decision to take strike action but we respect the right of individuals to take part. Our absolute priority is to ensure that patient care is not compromised and we will be putting contingency plans in place to assure this. I am pleased that Unison have confirmed their commitment to working with us to ensure patient services and care will not be disrupted by this action.”

 

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