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Porters triumph at last

Hospital porters victorious after 12 week walk-out over pay
Alex Flynn, Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

A deal ending the NHS Tayside porters dispute in Scotland was hailed as ‘justice’ by their union Unite today (June 30), after members involved in the four month long dispute voted to accept an improved offer.



Workers met to discuss the offer with 86 per cent of those voting to end the strike at Ninewells and Royal Victoria hospitals in Dundee.



The dispute centred over low pay which saw the porters being among the lowest paid in the NHS stretching back over a decade. The return to work will be phased between tomorrow (July 1) and Monday July 6). The four issues in the dispute and the outcomes were:


• Low paid porters sought a higher rate of pay which was agreed to.

• An immediate 7 per cent increase in pay rising to a 20 per cent by the end of the deal.

• A financial settlement that recognised the period of time the porters considered they had been underpaid.

• 14 porters who had been on a zero-hours contract and who had their contracts terminated during the dispute reinstated on permanent contracts.


The four month long dispute saw the porters initially refusing to do overtime and half-day stoppages every Friday for four weeks through March, before stepping up their action with continuous strike action for the last 12 weeks.



The 16 weeks of industrial action led to staff from other hospitals being drafted in to carry out porter duties.



“I am absolutely delighted that the NHS Tayside Porters dispute has been successfully settled in favour of our members,” said Unite regional co-ordinating officer Colin Coupar. “We have always believed that the workers were due the wages which have been erroneously withheld from them.



“Now justice has been delivered for the workers who took courageous and difficult industrial action over a period of 12 weeks.



“As part of the new agreement not only have we addressed the historic issue of pay, but Unite has worked hard to ensure that the scourge of zero-hours contracts in this dispute has been removed with 14 porters reinstated on permanent contracts.”



The porters, who were heavily supported by local communities at various protests, attended the anti-austerity march in Glasgow on June 20 with their mascot “Hamish the Dugg” (pictured), a West Highland terrier. Hamish stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the striking porters – he never missed a day on the picket line throughout the dispute.


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