Furious NHS Tayside pharmacy support workers have vowed to continue strike action after the process for resolving a long running pay dispute suddenly collapsed.
Due to a flawed job evaluation scheme, a number of grading issues have arisen at NHS Tayside, Dundee, since 2009, resulting in pharmacy support workers being paid at a lower grade than they should be.
Unite members, who have been participating in strike action over the issue since 19 August, were optimistic that the dispute’s end was in sight, following the establishment of a jointly agreed local job evaluation panel consisting of trained evaluators.
Workplace rep and pharmacy support worker Steve Smith said, “We thought for the second time we had an agreement in place that was going to reach a quick resolution.
“It’s made people angry and they’re determined to stay out until this is resolved. Any trust (in the management) has gone now but morale is high – it’s never been dented. We’re not moving until it’s sorted.”
The appeal process was scheduled to begin on Monday with the panel’s final decision, after consistency checking, to be delivered on Wednesday.
However, Unite was informed by NHS Tayside yesterday (5 September) that the consistency checking did not go ahead due to a staff side member withdrawing from the process.
The staff member stated that the case was “too high profile” and that they did not have “sufficient experience”.
Following the withdrawal, the process has now collapsed, with industrial action set to enter its third week.
Unite regional industrial officer, Susan Robertson, said the situation is “beyond belief” and a “complete and utter farce”.
“How can an NHS board the size of Tayside not fulfil its duties and complete this jointly agreed process? Pharmacy support workers are furious and it’s clear to us that NHS Tayside did not intend to deliver the job evaluation panel’s findings,” Robertson said.
“From day one NHS Tayside has tried to wriggle out of their commitment to an independent process at every opportunity. Unite has now requested an urgent meeting with the health secretary Jeane Freeman as we believe that she is not fully aware of NHS Tayside’s outrageous and unprofessional behaviour.
Robertson added, “Pharmacy support workers were ready to go back to work fully expecting to be awarded the banding grade they deserve. Instead, because of NHS Tayside’s incompetence, they will remain on the picket line.”