Three-day strike at hospitals in jobs row

STAFF at hospitals in Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury are set to stage a three-day-strike next week as a row over job and pay cuts escalates.

Medical secretaries, receptionists and clerks were among an estimated 300-plus Unison members who staged a one day strike on November 1.

Now the public sector union’s leaders say a three-day strike is to take place next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – November 20, 21 and 22 – in protest at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust’s plans to save £630,000 by axing 70 administration and clerical jobs and cutting the pay of around 275 other staff.

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Chiefs at the debt-hit trust are seeking to slash costs as the organisation faces a £26m deficit by the end of the year.

The walkouts follow a ballot of 537 Unison members last month, which gave overwhelming support to industrial action.

Mid Yorkshire Unison branch secretary Adrian O’Malley said staff who keep their jobs face a higher workload and the prospect of a pay cut of between £1,700 and £2,800.

He added: “The staff remain angry and management are refusing to discuss the situation with us.

“More than 300 people went out on strike on November 1. It was very well supported despite the fact there were a lot of people on annual leave because it was half-term week.

“We expect more people to strike this time as more and more people become aware of what the strike is about.”

Karen Barnard, deputy director of human resources at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said chief executive Stephen Eames had met with union representatives and had further meetings planned.

She added: “We hear informally that Unison is planning further industrial action, which is disappointing.

“Our absolute priority is to maintain patient care during any action and, as before, we would put in place any appropriate contingency plans.”

Of more than 500 administrative and clerical staff balloted last month, Unison said 88 per cent voted in favour of strike action and 96 per cent voted in favour of action short of a strike.