William Eichler 06 August 2019

Lincolnshire health visitors announce new pay strikes

Unite have announced that health visitors employed by the council will be holding further demonstrations across Lincolnshire as part of an ongoing pay dispute.

The union said that the 58 health visitors have lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS to the county council in October 2017.

The new, 48-hour strikes, which follow nine days of strike action already taken, will be accompanied by demonstrations in Gainsborough, Lincoln, and Louth.

Unite said they were also ‘seriously concerned’ about the downgrading of the health visitors’ professional status, resulting in fewer staff doing the specialist health visitor role.

‘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,’ said Unite regional officer Steve Syson.

‘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.’

Heather Sandy, the council's interim director for education, said: 'Following requests from the Unite union, the council has continued to engage in talks overseen by ACAS to try to resolve the current dispute.

'Unite represent approximately one third of our health visiting workforce and recent talks have been constructive. The council are considering some suggestions discussed within the meetings with the aim of reaching agreement with the union but we remain committed to moving ahead with career progression plans for our health visitor workforce.

'We value the professionalism and work of our health visitors and the support they provide to Lincolnshire families and have always been keen to avoid strike action.The council will now implement a career and pay progression scheme which would mean health visitors will be offered salaries beyond those available in the NHS. For those at the higher end of these salaries, evidence of their competencies to work at that senior level will be required.

'We continue to have plans in place to cover absences, particularly in the most vulnerable areas such as safeguarding, primary birth visits and families with the highest levels of need. No-one will be left without support.'

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