Five thousand people have signed a petition in support of the 21 Lancashire biomedical scientists currently on strike in a back pay dispute, which sees some of them owed up to £8,000.
Unite the union said there had been ‘a fantastic wave of support’ from the community, as pressure builds on the Interim Chief Executive at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Martin Hodgson, to meet with Unite and settle this unnecessary dispute as soon as possible.
The biomedical scientists, who have been on strike since May, are owed staggering amounts of back pay. That starts at several hundred pounds up to as much as £8,000, after managers failed to honour a 2019 agreement to upgrade their pay.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, who was on the Blackburn picket line this week, said, “The fact is that the trust has reneged on a promised pay deal for these workers who have served their community, without regard to their own health, throughout the terrible pandemic. Fact. And what do they get from the trust for that loyalty? Broken promises that’s all.
“Unite is not having that,” she added. “We are going to back these scientists of ours to the hilt. And now it’s clear the local community agrees with that.”
Following the visit from Unite’s general secretary, campaigners are moving from the picket line into the wider community door knocking and mobilising constituents to lobby their MP’s asking them to write to the interim chief executive urging an immediate settlement. Thousands are rallying behind the biomedical scientists.
Blackburn’s MP Kate Hollern said, “I appreciate the work of all NHS staff – especially in this time of national crisis. As far as I understand, the funds are there so the trust needs to reach an agreement that is to the satisfaction of the staff. It greatly disappoints me that it has not been possible to bring this to a conclusion before now.”
Unite estimates that the amount the trust will spend on overtime for non-union staff and extra managers to try and break the strike will reach more than £150,000 when it would cost around £50,000 to pay the striking workers what was agreed.
Those wishing to sign the petition can do so here.
Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.
By Shaun Noble