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Support worker strikes paused in Wirral amid ‘breakthrough’

Strike action by clinical support workers at Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been paused following a “breakthrough” in negotiations on pay.

More than 500 clinical support workers, belonging to the union Unison, were due to go on strike at the trust for 10 days from Monday (6 November).

“This is an important breakthrough allowing further talks to take place”

David McKnight

However, Unison announced today that strike action for next week had been called off because a new offer had been put forward by the trust.

The action at Wirral is part of a national campaign by Unison to win better pay for healthcare support workers (HCSWs) – and those in similar roles – who have been working above their banding.

The union argues that many HCSWs are on band 2 but are carrying out duties that are aligned with a band 3 job description.

At Wirral, the dispute has centred on the issue of back pay and how far back this should go.

Since August, clinical support workers at the trust have held 13 days of strike action over this issue.

A meeting was held yesterday between trust and staff representatives, through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), to try and negotiate a deal.

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Unison said that, during that meeting, the trust made a fresh offer that included meeting its demand for back pay to April 2018 for those who have been working at band 3 level since then.

Talks will now continue, and Unison has cancelled next week’s strikes while these take place.

Unison said strikes planned for the week commencing 13 November were still scheduled for now pending the next round of discussions.

Unison North West regional organiser David McKnight said: “This is an important breakthrough allowing further talks to take place.

“The trust’s offer of back pay to April 2018 is recognition of the years of hard work put in by clinical support workers to serve the Wirral community.

“These are among the lowest-paid workers in the NHS and it’s shameful so many trusts taken advantage of their goodwill for so long.”

A trust spokesperson said: “Wirral University Teaching Hospital and Unison met under the auspices of ACAS, on 2 November 2023 to enter into talks regarding the ongoing dispute regarding regrading and backpay for clinical support workers.

“Significant progress has been made and all parties will reconvene next week to continue negotiations.

“The trust welcomes Unison’s decision to pause strike action planned for 6 November 2023 whilst meaningful talks continue.”

More on the Unison support worker pay campaign 

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