Over 500 set to strike at Wirral hospitals next week

Hundreds of hospital staff on the Wirral are to stage fresh industrial action in a dispute over pay.

After failing to reach an agreement with Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, more than 500 clinical support workers in the UNISON union will walk out on Monday 11 September. This will be the second strike action by staff in as many weeks.

The staff – who assist nursing staff in delivering care on the wards – will walk out from 7am next week.

Representatives from UNISON said they were yet to receive an improved offer of back-pay for hospital workers. A meeting was held on Monday in a bid to avert the strike, but failed to secure an amicable agreement.

UNISON insists action will continue until staff are promised back pay to April 2018, in line with other North West trusts. The workers affected are employed across the trust’s sites at Arrowe Park and Clatterbridge hospitals. 

Union bosses have called for staff to be paid up to £2,000 more each year for performing duties and tasks well above their pay grade. A total of 48 hours of strike action took place last week. 

A total of seven health trusts across the North West have moved many low-paid workers to the higher rate and paid the affected staff back pay to April 2018. However, the Wirral trust has refused to draw up a similar agreement, despite a collective grievance signed by more than 400 staff. 

Instead, the trust has offered to backdate pay to December 2022. The industrial action has been backed by several Wirral politicians, including MPs Margaret Greenwood and Mick Whitley, and council leader Paul Stuart. They have written to the managers of Wirral’s hospitals, with both MPs attending the picket lines.

Some of those on strike will open the day’s business at the annual national Trades Union Congress in Liverpool next week where they will speak to trade union leaders from across the country about their dispute.

David McKnight, UNISON North West regional organiser, said, “The trust still refuses to do the right thing and pay these workers what they’re owed.

“Agreements in Greater Manchester and the offer in East Cheshire show that trusts have the power to resolve this issue without staff being forced to take any strike action. These employees just want to get back to work but they’re determined to be treated the same as their colleagues in other trusts. They’re hurt that their trust doesn’t value them in the same way.

“The union’s demand is clear. Staff must have full back-pay to April 2018 and should be involved in negotiations until the process is resolved. Until then, workers will continue their campaign.”

Christina McAnea, UNISON general secretary, added, “These workers are a vital part of the NHS but they’ve been underpaid for years for the roles and responsibilities they perform. It’s time the trust leadership do the right thing and pay staff properly with the wages they deserve.”

The LDRS contacted Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for comment.

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