Union leaders have raised hopes that a bitter industrial dispute, which led to a five-day strike at a hospital trust, could soon be resolved.
Medical secretaries were among Unison members at hospitals in Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury who walked out in late January in a row over pay cuts.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust sent letters to 74 administration and clerical staff, telling them to sign up to pay cuts of up to £2,800 a year or face losing their jobs.
Unison chiefs branded the dismissal and re-engagement notices ‘sacking letters’.
Some staff burned the documents in a protest outside the trusts’s HQ at Pinderfields hospital during January’s industrial action.
Hospital managers extended the original deadline for staff to sign the letters from February 15 to February 28.
Now management has further extended tomorrow’s deadline to March 22 as talks with unions Unison and Unite progress on alternative methods of cutting costs.
Jim Bell, regional Unison organiser, said the union has put forward a range proposals to cut costs and negate the need to cut pay or make compulsory redundancies.
Mr Bell said management are considering the proposals, which also include reduced hours, adding: “We are starting to edge towards a possible resolution.
“There is still a long way to go, but we are edging in the right direction.”
The YEP understands proposals put forward by the unions include one which could save the trust more than £196,000 a year on postage alone.
The trust currently sends letters to hundreds of patients each day asking them to contact the relevant hospital department to book an appointment. The patient is asked to contact the department to make an appointment and a confirmation letter is sent out.
The proposed new system would involve just one letter being sent to a patient, who would call the relevant hospital department and make a note of their appointment.
Unison had previously been considering stepping up their fight by holding a ballot for strike action for all 3,000 of their members at the trust, including nurses and healthcare assistants.
The trust is battling to make savings of £24m.
Graham Briggs, the trust’s director of human resources and Jim Bell said in a joint statement: “We had a constructive meeting on Monday and have agreed to meet again on March 21 to give the trust time to consider the proposal in detail. We remain committed to working together to reach a mutually agreed outcome.”