Scientists on Covid front line begin three weeks of strike action in East Lancashire over pay dispute

Biomedical scientists at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust have started their three-week strike after claiming bosses reneged on an upgrading pay agreement.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 12:09 pm
Updated Monday, 31st May 2021, 12:12 pm
NHS patients in Blackburn and Burnley have been warned test results may be delayed as 21 biomedical scientists employed by East Lancashire NHS Trust begin three weeks of strike action. (Credit: David Medcalf)

NHS patients in Blackburn and Burnley have been warned test results may be delayed as 21 biomedical scientists begin three weeks of strike action today (May 31).

Unite, the UK’s leading union, said the strike is due to the Trust "failing to honour an agreement made in 2019 to upgrade the scientists from band 5 to band 6 on the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale".

The affected workers are reportedly owed back pay between several hundred pounds to £8,000.

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The underpayment problem dates back to 2010 for some of the affected scientists.

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Unite regional officer Keith Hutson said: “The strike action will inevitably cause disruption across NHS East Lancashire Trust. But our members feel they have been left with no other option, as management has reneged on its promise to pay the money owed.

"It is absolutely astonishing that the trust's management have failed to resolve the underpayment of key workers for over a decade. Adding insult to injury, they somehow think it is appropriate to renege on the deal they agreed to in 2019 that would have resolved the problem.

"The trust has said that it is not prepared to negotiate and has bizarrely admitted to having put £150,000 of taxpayers' money aside to undermine the dispute."

The workers, who are based at the Royal Blackburn Hospital and Burnley General Teaching Hospital, have been striking during night, weekend and late shifts since May 7.

They have now embarked on three weeks of continuous strike action which began at 12.01am today (May 31).

It will end at 6.59am on Monday, June 21.

Unite believes it would be cheaper for the trust to resolve the dispute than the costs incurred for paying staff to cover the strike.

Keith Hutson added: "Our members have faced unprecedented challenges since the beginning of the pandemic and their only reward is to be denied being paid the money that they have been rightly promised.

"Rather than wasting taxpayers' money, the trust’s management need to drop their macho posturing, return to the negotiating table and agree to pay our members the money they are owed."

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