Unite general secretary Len McCluskey made a blistering attack today (Wednesday 16 October) on hardline Lincolnshire council bosses attempting to impose a two-tier ‘divide and rule’ jobs role on their health visiting workforce.

Len McCluskey told delegates at the annual conference of the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA) that the cash rich county council was failing in its public duty to resolve the long-running dispute.

The dispute has escalated from the first bout of strike action - 32 days since July with the loss of around 450 shifts which centred on health visitors having lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS - to the council’s insistence on different contracts for grade 9 and grade 10 health visitors.

More than 70 Lincolnshire health visitors are currently being balloted for strike action on the contracts’ issue. The ballot closes on Friday 25 October.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey told the Harrogate conference: “All our Lincolnshire health visitors ask for is fair pay, and what is rightfully theirs. They have lost over £2,000 a year since being transferred from the NHS to the county council three years ago, a move they never wanted and should never have happened.

“A hardline Tory council is prepared to drive health visitors away to where their skills and qualifications are properly respected, letting Lincolnshire families with young children suffer the consequences of a reduced service, rather than getting around the negotiating table with us and paying those cost-of living pay rises.

“So let me be clear to those council bosses sitting in Lincolnshire county hall. You are failing in your public duty to resolve the impasse and pay your health visitors what is theirs.

“And they are now trying divide and rule tactics by splitting the role in two, on different grades.

“The health visitors have now taken an unprecedented 32 days of industrial action and are being balloted again for further strikes.

“No worker takes strike action lightly, and not least those in the healthcare and caring professions.

“You are, they are, highly qualified professionals, looking after our children, our young people and their families - looking after our futures.

“Unite will be with our courageous, dedicated, hardworking health visitors, fighting for the future of a profession and service under attack, and for all of us, every step of the way. We are stepping up the campaign for pay justice and we will win.”

Unite argues that as all health visitors have the same community nurse qualifications, the same workplace training and in carrying out the health visitor role to the professional standards required by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (the statutory regulator of health visitors), their role is equivalent to a grade 10 job role.

Unite believes all health visitors should therefore be graded and paid accordingly – and that the council’s failure to properly evaluate the role of health visitors will lead to pay inequality, with those on grade 9 and old NHS contracts not being paid for their true job’s worth.

The CPHVA is a section of the Unite health sector. Unite has 100,000 members working in the health service.


Notes to editors:

A group of Lincolnshire were in the audience to hear Len McCluskey’s  speech.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.