More than 70 Lincolnshire health visitors have voted by a large majority to strike in the long running pay dispute over county council plans to ‘divide and rule’ over future job roles.
Unite said today (October 26) that strike dates would be announced soon, after the health visitors had voted by 67 per cent to strike.
The dispute has escalated from the first bout of strike action – 32 days since July with the loss of around 450 shifts which centred on health visitors having lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS – to the council’s current insistence on different contracts for grade 9 and grade 10 health visitors.
The new strike mandate came from not only the health visitors, who have been denied legitimate pay rises by the council since October 2017, but health visitors on the lower grade 9 and higher grade 10.
Unite argues that as all health visitors have the same community nurse qualifications their role is equivalent to a grade 10 job role – and, therefore, they should paid the same rate for the job.
“Our members have voted for strike action by a large majority in this dispute which has seen the county council bosses adopt an unscrupulous ‘divide and rule’ stance over future job roles,” said Unite regional officer Steve Syson.
“We will be announcing strike dates soon, but there is now a real window of opportunity for the county council to enter into constructive talks with Unite to resolve this dispute for the benefit of the families of Lincolnshire and our members.
“We also need to staunch the number of fed-up health visitors leaving the county council for alternative employment where their highly transferrable skills are more valued,” he added.
“Our case is compelling and that is all health visitors have had the same community nurse qualifications and workplace training – and, therefore, they should be on the same grade 10 contracts with the same pay scales after preceptorship for newly qualified health visitors for a period of two years.”
Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands Paresh Patel added, “Once again, the Lincolnshire health visitors are bravely leading the fight for the crisis-hit profession in England to be given the respect and resources they need to carry out their important role in helping families at a crucial time in their children’s development.”
The Lincolnshire dispute, in many respects, mirrors the crisis across England which has seen a 31 per cent drop in health visitor numbers since 2015. There were 7,026 health visitors in England in June this year compared with a peak of 10,309 in October 2015.
Unite represents 76 of the 126 health visitors employed by the county council.