A hospital trust at the centre of a year-long dispute over plans to slash out-of-hours payments by 80 per cent is spending up to £1 million a year on eight agency biomedical scientists– more than double any potential cost saving.
Biomedical scientists working for Northampton General Hospital have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action (82.8 per cent) and action short of strike (83.6 per cent) in response to the trust’s move to tear up a successful decade old agreement and instead impose onerous new terms.
Unite members, some with up to 40 years’ experience, have 90 days to sign new contracts or be sacked. 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.
Members face losing £6,000 a year and are furious that their well-being is being sacrificed for no cost savings.
The union has expressed frustration at the pathology management’s failure to engage in meaningful negotiations to resolve the row which has been ongoing since July 2013.
Unite is calling on the trust to enter meaningful talks as members meet to discuss the next stages of the dispute.
Unite regional officer, Mick Orpin, said: “Our members are understandably angry at the contempt they’re being shown. The trust is being completely unreasonable. 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 eight posts.
“Patient safety is being put at risk because the trust is trying to force through a new strategy without giving its loyal workforce a chance to voice their concerns. Inexperienced staff, who have never worked in blood transfusion, are being trained in an ad hoc manner to operate complex machines.
“The trust has already axed many posts; there are fears that staff shortages could mean our members are forced to work up to 25 night shifts in 14 weeks – almost doubling the trust’s new proposals. This will cause considerable hardship for those with family commitments and older members - something management has shut its eyes to.
“Unite’s repeated attempts to get management around the table to settle the dispute have been thwarted at every turn. No wonder frustration with the trust is mounting when meaningful talks could settle the dispute.
“Strike action is always a measure of last resort and Unite is keen to get around the negotiating table with management to reach a fair and just settlement for this loyal and dedicated workforce.”
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 Web: unitetheunion.org
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.
Strike ballot results: Strike action. 58 ballot papers dispatched. 48: voting YES
10: voting NO
Action short of a strike. 58 ballot papers dispatched. 46: voting YES 9: voting NO