Second strike announced as pay dispute involving Wigan drug and alcohol rehab staff rumbles on

Drug and alcohol support staff in Wigan will return to the picket line as a pay row goes on.

Monday, 2nd September 2019, 2:25 pm
Addaction staff on the picket line in Wigan last month

Trade union Unison has given notice to Addaction that employees will be staging a two-day strike beginning on Wednesday September 11.

Employees walked out last month as an agreement to match salaries in the NHS for staff in similar roles has not been honoured, leaving employees up to £1,000 a year short in the pocket.

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Arbitration service Acas is expected to host talks tomorrow (Tuesday) to try to find a solution, having previously held unsuccessful discussions before the first strike.

Unison North West regional organiser Paddy Cleary said: “Addaction is taking public money from the council to provide an important public service. If it cannot afford to pay staff the rate for the job it should not have bid to take on the work.

“Addaction made promises it has not kept. Staff have been misled and are determined to get what they were promised.”

“Addaction made no offer to attempt to resolve the dispute at Acas last time, but we are hopeful its national managers will now be in a position to avert further strike action. This is a simple matter, and Addaction just needs to show good faith and keep its promise to staff.

“Once this is resolved we are looking to engage constructively with Addaction in the future. The charity employs Unison members on various pay rates and we want to work with Addaction to ensure all staff receive the proper rate for the job.”

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 decision but the fact that there was a unanimous vote for strike 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.”

The employees were previously NHS staff but moved to Addaction when the drug and alcohol rehab service commissioned by Wigan Council was transferred to the national charity.

Workers were assured that NHS pay rises would be matched but this broke down when the health service announced a three-year pay deal in April 2018, with Addaction refusing to give its staff the rise.

A total of 31 employees are involved in the industrial action and there were picket lines outside Coops Building in Wigan town centre and Kennedy House in Leigh during the first day of action on August 23.

Staff who downed tools spoke to Wigan Today of their sadness and disappointment that striking was necessary to find a way forward.

The next strike will last for 48 hours on Wednesday September 11 and Thursday September 12.

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

"We are currently in conversation with Unison and our focus in the coming weeks is to keep talking. We’re committed to trying to work through the issues in a way that is fair and sustainable for everyone.”