Pathologists at Northampton General Hospital take acti...

Pathologists at Northampton General Hospital take action over ‘sign or be sacked’ ultimatum

25 June 2014

Forty-eight biomedical scientists working at Northampton General Hospital, members of the UK’s largest union Unite, will begin industrial action tomorrow (Thursday 26 June) after the trust’s continued refusal to negotiate its ‘sign or be sacked’ ultimatum.

Members face losing their jobs and up to £6,000 a year under the ultimatum.

The action, which begins at 00:01 on 26 June, will include bans on over time, out-of-hour working and on call and is in response to the trust’s plans to unilaterally tear up a decade old agreement and impose new contracts without any negotiation.

Unite is calling on the management of Northampton General Hospital to meet under the auspices of Acas to settle the increasingly bitter year-long dispute.

Unite members are concerned that the trust is putting patient safety at risk by bringing in agency staff and staff with no biomedical or laboratory training from other departments to operate a ‘normal pathology service’ in a bid to break the strike.

The union has offered to cover all emergencies over the strike period provided the trust agrees to remove any agency/locum staff and workers from other departments but the trust has so far refused.

Unite regional officer Mick Orpin said: “Over the past three weeks our members have been training their own strike cover. They are deeply concerned that these workers - some with no laboratory training whatsoever- will be asked to operate very complicated machinery in emergency situations.

“Workers face losing a staggering £6,000 a year and their work- life balance is under threat when up to a million pounds a year is being squandered on agency workers.

“It beggars belief that Northampton General Hospital would rather put patient safety at risk and blow precious trust resources on agency staff and unqualified workers than negotiate a settlement.

“We consider it an unacceptable risk to the public for the trust to use untrained staff in this manner and are calling for management to agree to Acas talks as a matter of urgency.”

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.

A typical biomedical scientist earns between £21,000-£35,000 a year and will have a university degree, often Masters degrees, additional post-graduate training and many years’ experience.


For further information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777

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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.