Hospital strike looms

A wintry Wigan Infirmary
A wintry Wigan Infirmary

HEALTH chaos is looming as Wigan Infirmary lab staff look set to strike over pay and conditions.

Months of discussions between the trust and the Unite union, who are representing pathology staff at the hospital, have seen no resolution that is satisfactory to both sides.

And it now appears that discussions have now broken down after employees were offered a “take it or leave it” ultimatum.

Some 60 staff, who are employed by Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust (SRFT), conduct all diagnostic tests (such as blood and urine samples) at all three Wigan hospitals and Salford Royal Hospital.

Unite regional officer Gary Owen said: “The final vote from our members resulted in a narrow rejection of the latest offer from the trust (SRFT) and as far as I am aware there will be no further offers from them - a ‘take it or leave it’ offer.

“Therefore our members have prompted to ask for a new vote on whether to not to take industrial action and this will be done in due course and then we will go from there.

“Members have contacted me saying they have been asked to sign a new contract, but I have yet to be provided with a copy and I shall advise members once I have seen a copy.

“We should know in two or three weeks what the outcome of the ballot over industrial action will be and we will go from there.”

In September last year staff voted to strike over plans to slash the pay and terms and conditions by up to £6,000 a year, which union bosses say was the last straw for most staff.

However, after union chiefs agreed to stall any strike action so negotiations could continue, employees have once again voted to reject the latest improved offer put forward.

They have also endured a three-year pay freeze, a cut in payments for working unsocial hours and imposed increases in their pension contributions say Unite.

There has also previously been criticism from some experts about the medical and logistical sense in sending blood and other samples 15 miles through heavy traffic to Salford for tests that are currently carried out on site at Wigan.