More talks to avert hospital strike

Unison members striking outside Pontefract hospital.'p320f247
Unison members striking outside Pontefract hospital.'p320f247

UNION chiefs and hospitals bosses are resuming talks this morning in a bid to avert a week of strike action at Pontefract Hospital from Monday.

Representatives from Unison and Unite will meet management at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust today to resume talks with ACAS.

The unions are in dispute with management over proposed pay cuts to admin and clerical staff, as part of the trust’s bid to make an annual £24m in government savings and tackle its underlying deficit – expected to be £30m at the end of the financial year.

Unions are also angry at the trust continuing to spend money on management consultants Ernst and Young. The trust had improved its offer, extended pay protection to affected staff from a maximum of 12 months to a maximum of 18 months, and and for staff moving from pay bands three to two, an additional six months pay protection, paid up front, but this was rejected by the union.

Both sides met on Wednesday afternoon with ACAS in an attempt to resolve the dispute – if the talks fail members of both unions will go on strike for five days from Monday at Pontefract, Pinderfields and Dewsbury hospitals.

Graham Briggs, director of human resources for the trust, said: “Talks are ongoing to resolve as best we can the whole issue.”

However, he added the trust was planning in case the strike went ahead. Mr Briggs added: “From a patient point of view we are confident that we will be able to run services that they will access and utilise as they normally would and we are in the process of making sure that contingencies are in place for all of next week.”