Scientists ballot over £15,000 wage cuts

by - 10th October 2011, 10.41 BST

Biomedical scientists at Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust are being balloted for possible industrial action in a dispute that could see them lose, on average, £15,000-a-year in wages.

Unite is balloting its 36 members for industrial action which could see the pathology department in Manchester facing total shutdown outside the hours of 9.00am – 5.00pm.

As the highly-trained haematologists and bio-chemists, who face a pay cut of 30 per cent, are responsible for such work, as cross-checking blood transfusions, night-time operations could be disrupted – and the hospital could even be forced to close.

Unite regional officer Keith Hutson said: “This dispute has been manufactured by a hardline management as they have the money in their budget to institute this nationally-recognised transitional payment.

“The last thing that our members want is to disrupt the smooth night-time running of the hospital – they are dedicated professionals – but to a lose a third of your income when your pay has already been frozen as part of the government’s austerity measures is unacceptable and, quite frankly, unaffordable.”

The dispute stems from changes made in April 2008 for unsocial hours shift work payments which did not include pathology staff. In 2010 the NHS staff council published guidance and principles for transitional payments from 1 April 2011 designed to avoid significant immediate loss of income when pathology staff moved to the 2008 payment system.

Unite said the trust management has the money available, but was only offering a nine-month transitional payment from 1 October this year – and then the biomedical scientists will revert to their old salaries which will see them losing between £6,000 – £19,000-a-year in pay.

Keith Hutson said: “If the ballot is successful, our members will work the regular hours of 9.00am -5.00pm. We don’t believe that the hospital could function at night with the biomedical scientists who are not union members. In theory and in practice, the hospital could close down.

“However, we urge the management to get around the table and enter into mature negotiations to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible.”

The ballot closes on Wednesday, 19 October.