Healthworkers fight back in North East

Published on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 11:55
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

Health workers at Northumbria Healthcare will lobby their trust governors' AGM this evening ahead of a one-day strike tomorrow.

This will be the second strike in their bid to protect terms and conditions, having previously walked out on 28 June.

The have also been taking continuous action short of a strike, reacting to trust bosses' plans to cut the mileage allowance for health workers who have to use their own cars for trust business by only using public transport instead.

Northumbria Healthcare, an NHS foundation trust, has decided to almost halve the travel reimbursement rate from 47p a mile to 24p a mile for those staff who use their car in order to carry out their job – the same as the public transport rate.

Employees who wish to remain on the 47p-a-mile rate must use a fleet car provided by the trust, which the union says it makes a profit on.

"The trust has driven our members – vital NHS workers delivering some of the most vital community health services – to take further action by the contempt that it has shown for them," says branch secretary George Barron.

"We will not stand for attacks on our national terms and conditions."

Regional organiser Keith Blackburn adds: "UNISON is a responsible union, and strike action is always a last resort. The trust has driven our members to this. The morale of community based staff has plunged."

The effect of the trust's action is illustrated by Norma Agnew, a technical instructor in the trust's community business unit, who is more than £2,000 a year worse off.

Ms Agnew is nearing retirement and says: "My husband works in mental health: neither of us have had a pay rise for three years, but our shopping bills, energy bills and petrol costs have all gone up.

"Me and my husband were quite comfortable, now we're waiting for payday.

"That's not how you should be when you're coming to the end of your working life – I should be putting money aside but I can't."

Source: ©Unison

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