Health visitors employed by Lincolnshire county council will strike initially for six days over not getting paid the rate for the job and the erosion of their professional responsibilities which could adversely impact vulnerable families.
Unite said today (June 28) that the 58 health visitors voted by an 84 per cent majority to strike.
A 48-hour stoppage will start on July 15, with 24-hour strikes on July 19 and 22. This will be followed by a 48-hour strike on July 25 . All the strikes will start at just past midnight.
It is believed to be the first time that the county’s health visitors will have taken strike action in defence of their pay and professional standards.
The strike comes as controversy continues to swirl over the £292,000 pay off to the council chief executive Keith Ireland for less than six months’ work.
Unite calculates that its Lincolnshire health visitor members have lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS to the county council in October 2017.
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), is also seriously concerned about the downgrading of the health visitors’ professional status, resulting in fewer staff doing the specialist health visitor role.
“It is unprecedented for the health visitors in Lincolnshire to vote for strike action – the reasons being the council’s refusal to give them a pay rise since 2017 and concerns that their professional standards are being seriously eroded by a penny pinching employer,” said Unite regional officer Steve Syson.
“The demise in numbers means that those left have excessive caseloads and more serious safeguarding cases to deal with.
“At a time when there is the lowest number of heath visitors in England since September 2012, it is outrageous that the council seems determined to freeze the incomes of the health visitors and undermine their professional standards,” he added.
“Our members are very reluctant to strike as they know the impact it will have on Lincolnshire’s families, many of them in vulnerable circumstances.
“But they are faced with a county council more concerned with giving its former chief executive Keith Ireland a scandalous £292,000 pay off for a mere six months work than paying its own health visitors the rate for the job – we have a local authority with a skewed sense of priorities.
“I wrote to the council in a bid to settle this dispute, but, as yet, I have not had the courtesy of a reply. However, Unite’s door remains open for constructive talks 24/7 for the benefit of Lincolnshire families.”