Standing firm in Mid Yorks hospitals pay cuts battle

The following article featured on the Socialist Party’s main website is written by Alistair Tice one of our regional organisers.

Admin and clerical Unison and Unite members at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust have been fighting back against ‘downbanding’ ie pay cuts. But since their three-day strike action ended on 22 November management have still not actually downbanded any staff.

The Trust proposals mean pay cuts of between £1,700 and £2,800 a year on over 350 medical secretaries, receptionists and other admin staff employed at Dewsbury, Pontefract and Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. Over 40 posts have also been axed through voluntary redundancy and a ‘Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme’.

The Trust tried to bully workers into signing up to the pay cuts with the threat of dismissal and redundancy over Christmas and New Year but they failed miserably. Two reps have been subjected to disciplinary action in separate incidents on spurious grounds. But the union refused to hold any negotiations with management whilst these two reps face disciplinaries. The first was dropped without any action being taken before Christmas and now the second has also been dropped without going to a disciplinary hearing. The union has been told that no further action will be taken against strike activists. Unison has told the Trust that if any ‘dismiss and reengagement’ letters are sent giving notice of downbandings they will immediately call further escalated strike
action.

Last week a manager sent out letters to some medical secretaries. The full time union official emailed management telling them of the intention to call a week-long strike. Management withdrew the letters saying they were sent out without their knowledge! Unison is beginning a consultative ballot of the rest of the Unison branch members in other departments who are threatened with downbanding. Then they could move to a formal ballot when the timing is right. The correctness of this approach to management’s threats is shown by the Mid Yorks Unison branch recruiting 200-300 new members since the beginning of the dispute.

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