Wigan drug and alcohol rehab staff celebrating as pay dispute ends

A marathon campaign of industrial action at We Are With You is over.
A picket line during the industrial disputeA picket line during the industrial dispute
A picket line during the industrial dispute

Employees had been in dispute with the charity over pay for 15 months when it was resolved on Wednesday.

The 30 staff, who were previously employed by the NHS, had been campaigning to retain the same salaries as their colleagues in the health service.

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They staged 26 days of strikes at the Coops building in Wigan and Kennedy House in Leigh and secured the support of current and former Labour MPs in the borough as well as members of the shadow cabinet.

And now the support workers have received thousands of pounds in back pay after agreeing a deal which matches the NHS Agenda For Change payments between April 2018 and April 2021.

They have also ensured they will not be paid below NHS rates until April 2022.

Unison North West regional organiser Paddy Cleary said: “The determination of this group of key workers must be commended.

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“They continued their struggle when many would have faltered. They knew that they were right and that We Are With You was firmly in the wrong, and they have been proven correct.

“These inspirational workers have continued to provide a vital lifeline to members of the local community throughout the pandemic.

“It’s only right that they should receive the pay they are rightfully owed just before Christmas.

“Now they can once again focus entirely on their life-saving work.”

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Another outcome from the industrial action is that We Are With You has had to recognise Unison as its employees’ trade union.

The rehab workers’ campaign, which first saw employees head to the picket lines in August 2019, was supported by Wigan and Makerfield MPs Lisa Nandy and Yvonne Fovargue.

A spokesperson for We Are With You said: “We have listened to the concerns of our staff in Wigan and worked together with Unison to come to an agreement that all parties are happy with.

“We would like to thank our staff in Wigan for their continued hard work and dedication and are delighted we can move forward together to continue to provide the best possible support to people affected by drug and alcohol use in the area.”

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Wigan Trades Council, which has supported the striking workers throughout, called on the council to bring the commissioned drug and alcohol service back into the public sector when the current contract ends.

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