Drug and alcohol staff will strike as last-ditch talks fail

Drug and alcohol rehab staff will down tools in a pay dispute after a final round of talks to avert strike action failed.
Addaction workers are going on strikeAddaction workers are going on strike
Addaction workers are going on strike

Workers with Addaction will be on the picket line tomorrow (Friday) after discussions with arbitration service Acas ended yesterday without a resolution.

The 31 staff involved are taking industrial action as they are not paid the same as NHS staff in similar roles despite promises by Addaction that national wage agreements in the health service would be honoured.

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Trade union Unison, which is representing the workers, said staff stand to lose up to £1,000 per year.

There will be picket lines on Friday morning outside the Coops Building in Wigan and Kennedy House in Leigh.

The drug and alcohol service is commissioned by Wigan Council and the staff were previously employees of the NHS.

A ballot for industrial action came back with every single worker who filled the document out in favour of striking.

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Paul Almond, a drug and alcohol worker and Unison rep, said: “I never expected to have to go on strike, and I don’t think many of my colleagues did either. We have agonised over this question. But the fact that 100% of us voted to take action shows how strongly we all feel about this issue.

“We’re all willing to stick together to secure the pay rise we were promised.”Unison North West regional organiser Paddy Creary said: “Addaction have given repeated assurances to staff that they would receive the NHS pay deal, but they have gone back on their word.

“This dedicated group of support workers have been out of pocket for 16 months and have been forced to take strike action by an employer that just won’t listen.

“We had hoped that the Acas talks would be successful, but the local and regional managers who attended made no offer to staff and seemed to have no authority to reverse decisions taken nationally. Assurances made by managers to staff in Wigan and Leigh seem to have been ignored and overridden by bosses in London.

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“Our members voted 100 per cent in favour of taking strike action. They are willing to do whatever it takes to secure the pay rise they’re owed. I would strongly urge Addaction to reconsider its position and pay up now.”

An Addaction spokesperson said: "We understand the concerns expressed by our colleagues in Wigan and we're doing our best to find a way forward with Unison.

“Our focus in the coming weeks is to keep talking and keep trying to work through the issues in a way that is fair and sustainable for everyone.

“The service will remain open, managers have a robust plan in place to ensure that individuals who use the service are still able to be seen, however inevitably there may be some short delays.”