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Unite: Lincolnshire health visitors step up pay campaign with more strikes & rallies planned
Health visitors employed by Lincolnshire county council are stepping up their campaign this week in the dispute over not getting paid the rate for the job and the erosion of their professional responsibilities which could adversely impact vulnerable families.
Unite, the union, said that the 58 health visitors will be holding demonstrations in Gainsborough (Wednesday 7 August), Lincoln (Thursday 8 August) and Louth (Friday 9 August), as well as holding two more 48 hour strikes later this month – on top of the nine days of strike action already taken.
The two new 48 hour strikes announced are on 15-16 August and 19-20 August. The strikes will start at 00:01.
The dispute centres on Unite’s calculation that its Lincolnshire health visitor members have lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS to the county council in October 2017.
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), is also seriously concerned about the downgrading of the health visitors’ professional status, resulting in fewer staff doing the specialist health visitor role.
Unite regional officer Steve Syson said:
“Our members have had tremendous support in their local communities by a public that recognises the important work they do for families and children throughout Lincolnshire.
“However, they have been met by a brick wall in the form of a council that remains intransigent, despite three meetings under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas. The attitude of the council is immoral as it is denying our members legitimate pay rises.
“The council has proffered 30 grade 10 jobs, which they have conjured out of nowhere, that may ensure this pay increase. But these contracts are shrouded in secrecy so we don’t know what would be required from our members – it could mean a long-term erosion of employment condition. Also, these contracts are not enough to cover all of our 58 members.
“Unite remains open for constructive dialogue with the council 24/7 – but until pay parity is guaranteed for all health visitors employed by the county council our campaign for pay justice will continue.”
Details of the demonstrations taking place:
7 August – in Gainsborough – demonstration at 10.00 at Marshalls Yard, Beaumont Street, Gainsborough DN21 2NA to be followed by a march through the town.
8 August – in Lincoln – demonstration at 10.00 at Lincolnshire county council offices, Newland LN1 1Y, also followed by a march through the town.
9 August – in Louth – the protesters will meet at the Cattle Market car park LN11 9EQ which will be followed by a march through the town.
There will also be a rally in Lincoln on Saturday 17 August with protestors meeting in the Minster Yard at 11.00. The march will start at 11.30 going through the city centre and ending with speeches at High Bridge.
Notes to editors:
The health visitors had voted by an 84 per cent majority to strike.
It is believed to be the first time that the county’s health visitors have taken strike action in defence of their pay and professional standards, given extra piquancy by the controversy over the council handing its former chief executive Keith Ireland a £292,000 pay off for a mere six months work.
The health visitors are on the NHS Agenda for Change pay scales, but have had no increases in pay since being transferred to the local authority which has different pay rates – even though both council and NHS employees have received wage awards, these health visitors have not.
NHS staff in England last year accepted a three year pay deal which, for the majority of staff, meant a 6.5 per cent hike in pay over the three years.
The dispute only involves those 58 health visitors transferred from the NHS under Agenda for Change terms. There are 111 full-time equivalent health visitor posts – and those other health visitors are either on grade 10 contacts or were employed by the county council since October 2017. There are also some student health visitors.
The latest figures from NHS Digital reveal the lowest number of health visitors in England since September 2012. There were 7,694 health visitors in England in January this year, a fall of 25 per cent since their peak of more than 10,000 in October 2015 when the Health Visitor Implementation Plan came to an end.
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.
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