Unite members vote to end four-month action after accepting new pay offer


NHS TaysideA deal ending the four-month NHS Tayside porters dispute in Scotland was yesterday hailed as ‘justice’ by Unite after members accepted an improved offer that see 14 sacked workers getting their jobs back.

Workers voted by 86% to end the strike at Ninewells and Royal Victoria hospitals in Dundee.

The dispute centred over low pay which saw the porters being among the lowest paid in the NHS stretching back over a decade. The return to work will be phased between today and Monday. The four issues in the dispute and the outcomes were as follows.

  • Low paid porters sought a higher rate of pay which was agreed.
  • An immediate 7% increase in pay rising to a 20% by the end of the deal.
  • A financial settlement that recognised the period of time the porters considered they had been underpaid.
  • 14 porters who had been on a zero-hours contract and who had their contracts terminated during the dispute reinstated on permanent contracts.

The dispute saw the porters initially refusing to do overtime and half-day stoppages every Friday for four weeks through March, before stepping up their action with continuous strike action for the last 12 weeks.

The 16 weeks of industrial action led to staff from other hospitals being drafted in to carry out porter duties.

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Colin Coupar said: “I am absolutely delighted that the NHS Tayside Porters dispute has been successfully settled in favour of our members. We have always believed that the workers were due the wages which have been erroneously withheld from them.

“Now justice has been delivered for the workers who took courageous and difficult industrial action over a period of 12 weeks.

“As part of the new agreement not only have we addressed the historic issue of pay, but Unite has worked hard to ensure that the scourge of zero-hours contracts in this dispute has been removed with 14 porters reinstated on permanent contracts.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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