Unite reps meet with managers at Lincolnshire hospital as electricians, plumbers and technicians begin work-to-rule

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Maintenance staff at three Lincolnshire hospitals are today taking industrial action, as they face a loss of about £1,700 to their incomes.

The electricians, plumbers, technicians and maintenance staff at Boston, Grantham and Lincoln hospitals will be ‘working to rule’, as they had their national recruitment and retention premium (RRP) – designed to retain staff in short supply – slashed by 50 per cent in April.

This is worth £33-a-week – about £1,700-a-year – and the craft workforce, numbering about 40, face losing the other 50 per cent from April 2013.

Talks between Unite and the management of United Lincolnshire Hospitals (ULHT) NHS Trust will take place today, as the craft staff start their ‘withdrawal from the on-call rota’ and a ‘work-to-rule’ from 6.00am.

Unite regional officer David Roome said:  “A craft person’s maximum basic starting salary is £18,402, rising after seven years to £21,798. The RRP loss will mean many of these highly skilled members, most who have worked at these hospitals for many years, struggling to make ends meet.

“At the same time as they are losing £33-a-week, these members have also had to start paying around £18-a-month to park at work due to ULHT imposing this on all employees. Given that Lincolnshire is a rural county, car travel is essential for most staff to get to work.

“ULHT has the ability to negotiate a local RRP agreement, but it has made no attempt to do so, despite numerous attempts by Unite reps to seek meetings.

“Many other trusts up-and-down the country have negotiated local agreements with their staff, such as the neighbouring Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

“Also, the coalition government has imposed a two-year pay freeze on NHS workers, as well as an increase on these members’ pension contributions of £250-a-year.

“This trust wants to explore the possibility of seeking ’foundation’ status. One of the principles of foundation status is having a good working partnership with its employees. This is not the approach ULHT is following.

“The effect of Monday’s action will be on management, because those qualified, will have to cover the ‘on call’ rota and/or have to manage contractors to do work which can’t be put off.

“On patient care, the steps the management has to take will mean that this will not be affected.

“We are seeking a fair settlement for our members, whose skills are much in demand in other parts of the economy.”


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