Unite members at the blood testing centre at Colindale in north London have voted to suspend planned industrial action, after receiving assurances from management regarding talks to safeguard blood and blood products, including job security.
Unite had planned strike action at Colindale and a work-to-rule at the blood testing centres at Manchester and Filton, near Bristol next week over plans to close Colindale and move its services to Filton.
The situation had been complicated by the fact the blood centre at Filton was temporarily shut for a week because of the recent heavy rain. Filton is built on a flood plain.
Unite said today (Friday 5 October) that talks will take place locally to determine the best configuration for testing blood, and whether moving to two centres (Filton and Manchester) will provide sufficient and flexible cover for England, especially in the light of the recent flooding at Filton.
Unite’s head of health Rachael Maskell said: “There are a number of issues that need to be ironed out locally and, as a result, Unite’s members have suspended their industrial action at the three centres to allow the talks with management to proceed in a positive manner.
“Unite will now work with NHS Blood and Transplant Testing (NHSBT) management to maximise efficiencies, within a context of job security and defending this vital public service from the forces of fragmentation and privatisation that currently haunt the corridors of the Department of Health.
“Our members stood together for security of blood and blood products for England, and won job security in this essential public service.”
The crux of the dispute was the ‘business case’ which would have meant blood samples from London and the south east travelling for more than two hours for testing at Filton.
Unite members test samples of blood that is taken from donors to check on its features – and to assure that it is safe to use. Some highly specialist testing, such as antenatal testing is also involved.
Notes to news editors:
For further information please contact Rachael Maskell on 07768 693933 and/or Unite communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey