“Fed up” Scottish pharmacy workers will go on strike if progress is not made in a long running pay dispute at a meeting between Unite officials and NHS bosses tomorrow (July 4).
NHS Tayside pharmacy support workers voted by 100 per cent in a ballot with a 90 per cent turnout in favour of strike action and action short of strike.
The dispute relates to a failure by NHS Tayside to acknowledge the duties of pharmacy support workers.
Due to a flawed job evaluation scheme, a number of grading issues have arisen in NHS Tayside since 2009 which has consequently resulted in pharmacy support workers being paid at a lower grade than they should be.
Workplace rep Gary Niblock, who has been a pharmacy worker for two decades, said the workers’ patience with the trust’s management is running out.
He said, “We’ve argued for years that we should get more for the job we’re doing. We amassed the points we needed under (the trust’s pay policy) but there was always some obstacle put in the way.
“People are fed up. We done everything that’s been required of us: filled in evaluations, questionnaires, job descriptions, resubmitted stuff. It just seems there’s always more and more hoops to jump through – it’s ridiculous.”
Unite met with senior management last Friday (28 June), including the chief executive and chairman of NHS Tayside, where degrees of progress were made on the substantive points of the pay dispute.
Both parties agreed to reconvene talks tomorrow, with NHS Tayside chief executive Grant Archibald saying the trust was seeking to avoid any industrial action and “looking forward to meeting with Unite representatives again”.
Depending on the outcome of the meeting, Unite will either call off the prospective industrial action or serve notice of industrial action with continuous action starting from Monday, July 22.
Unite regional industrial officer Susan Robertson said the decision to vote for strike action “illustrates the deep frustrations and anger our members feel at their mistreatment by NHS Tayside”.
“Unite would like to state that we don’t take industrial action lightly and we are mindful that patients and their families would be affected. However, we believe that the public would support our members’ stance if action is necessary,” Robertson said.
“Pharmacy support workers are hardworking skilled professionals who provide a dedicated and crucial service to patients, and they deserve to have that properly recognised.”