Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury: Union to consult hospital nurses over strike ballot

PICKET DUTY: Staff at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals on the picket line. PIC: Karen Grimaldi
PICKET DUTY: Staff at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals on the picket line. PIC: Karen Grimaldi
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Nurses are to be consulted over a ballot for strike action in support of administrative workers involved in a bitter dispute at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Unison is to consult all 3,000 of its members amid an ongoing strike by administrative workers over pay cuts at the trust, which runs hospitals in Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury.

The trust has sent notices of dismissal to 162 affected staff and told them they face being out of job unless they sign new contracts on reduced pay.

Health bosses want to impose pay cuts of up to £2,800 a year among up to 500 low-paid mainly female staff, including medical secretaries and receptionists, as part of moves to make millions in savings at the debt-ridden trust.

Adrian O’Malley, branch secretary of Unison Mid Yorkshire Health, said: “We are going to be consulting all 3,000 of our members of the branch at the trust. They include everybody from ancillary workers, porters domestic and catering staff to nurses and technicians.

“We will be consulting them with a view to balloting for strike action. It will escalate.”

Unison leaders have advised administrative staff not to sign the new contracts as the union takes legal advice.

Hundreds of Unison and Unite members started a five day strike on Monday following two strikes totalling four days last November.

Trust managers say they must reduce the pay bill as the organisation battles to make savings of £24m.

Graham Briggs, director of human resources at the trust, said: “The Trust has sought to reach a negotiated settlement with Unison and Unite – the two unions representing the affected staff. We have made four separate offers to extend pay protection for the affected staff since negotiations began in December last year.

“Our fifth and latest concession was to agree to work with the unions on their own offer to come up with an alternative way of delivering the same level of savings without down grading staff. We agreed to support the unions over a six week period to work up the proposal in detail and evaluate it. Their decision to reject this out of hand meant we had no alternative but to press ahead with implementation and 162 staff were sent notice of dismissal and re-engagement.”

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