The HV strikes: applying pressure

25 November 2019

The Lincolnshire health visitors started their latest strike last week (Monday 18 November). 

Currently, the strike is planned to go on for a month till Friday 13 December, though cracks now seem apparent in the county council’s ‘divide and rule’ policy over future job roles. 

As it stands, the plans could see some of the HVs lose an estimated £150,000 over the duration of their careers.

Unite met with the county council, under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas, on Tuesday 19 November, with the aim to move things forward and resolve the dispute.

The latest strike centres on the council’s current insistence on different contracts for grade 9 and grade 10 health visitors, as previously reported.

But Unite said cracks were appearing in the council’s two-tier policy, as it had offered 73 higher paid grade 10 roles to health visitors, following the strike action which started in July.
Unite regional officer Steve Syson said: ‘We need to keep up the pressure on the authority to achieve the proper grade 10 role for all the HVs who have the same qualifications.
‘The situation is serious as the council is haemorrhaging HVs who are leaving for better paid positions elsewhere.’
Steve explained further: ‘Since the start of the industrial action, the council has had to offer 30 grade 10 roles after the last bout of industrial action and a further 43 since the announcement of the month-long strike.  
‘Unfortunately, this offer comes with unacceptable strings as Unite would have to agree to accept the continuance of the grade 9 role with the two tier system remaining in place. We fundamentally disagree with the council that this lower paid role is appropriate.’
Steve went on to reveal that: ‘The council has also offered improved transitional payments for HVs transferring from Agenda for Change contract terms to the council contract at grade 10 – which was the reason for the original strike action – but this was only for a selected few, which again would cause more division inside an already fractured workforce.’
Of the support received to date from the public Steve said: ‘We have been amazed and heartened by the support for the HVs, not just from the Lincolnshire public, but across the country.’
He said it’s clear ‘that people recognise their fight is part of a broader campaign for a fully-resourced health visiting service across England.’
Unite lead professional officer Jane Beach added: ‘It is shocking that experienced health professionals, who want nothing more than to continue to provide excellent care to the children and families of Lincolnshire, continue not to be listened to.’

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