Unite, the UK’s biggest union, has today (Thursday 3 July) vowed to give its full industrial backing to the 78 biomedical scientists banned from work by Northampton General Hospital in a bitter row over the trust’s ‘sign or be sacked ultimatum’.
Over 600 delegates at Unite’s policy conference in Liverpool today condemned the lockout in the strongest possible terms and said that the trust’s callous attempts to ‘starve our members’ back to work will fail as conference pledged ‘moral, physical and financial support’ to the union’s members.
Unite is deeply concerned that the trust is putting lives at grave risk by denying patients the skill and expertise of professional biomedical scientists after reports of six hour long delays and longer for blood test results begin to surface.
70 per cent of all diagnosis is made in hospital laboratories, in an emergency, such as a haemorrhage in childbirth, a delay or mistake in cross matching blood samples can mean the difference between life and death, the union added.
Following yesterday’s exploratory talks under the auspices of ACAS, Unite is urging the trust to come prepared to negotiate an agreed settlement when talks resume next week (Thursday 10 July).
Gail Cartmail, Unite assistant general secretary: “Our members will not be starved back to work, we will do what it takes and offer the financial support needed to get them through this callous and cruel attack on their livelihoods.
“It’s unprecedented for an NHS trust to lockout its workforce. Northampton General Hospital’s banning is a test case for how the 1.3 million NHS staff will be treated in an increasingly privatised NHS.
“The trust must come clean with the people of Northampton; lives are being put at risk by management’s use of inexperienced staff to break the strike.
“We urge trust management to be ready to negotiate on the proposed new contracts when ACAS talks resume next week. We are calling on the trust to remove the sign or be sacked ultimatum which will see members out of a job by the end of July and allow them back to work with immediate effect.”
78 biomedical scientists working in the hospital’s laboratory were banned by the trust from entering the workplace on Thursday 26 June as they prepared to take part in lawful industrial action, short of strike, including an overtime ban and a ban on out-of-hours working and on call in a dispute over new contracts.
The new contracts will see workers forced to double their night time shifts from seven days in 14 weeks to 14 days in 14 weeks while out-of-hours payments are slashed by 80 per cent. Unite members face losing up to £6,000 a year.
A typical biomedical scientist earns between £21,000-£35,000 a year and will have a university degree, often Masters degrees, plus additional post graduate training and many years’ experience.
For further information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.