MAINTENANCE staff at Pilgrim Hospital are taking industrial action today (Monday) in a protest against pay changes which could see their incomes slashed.
Electricians, plumbers, technicians and other maintenace staff are spending the day working to rule and will withdraw from the on-call rota to make their point over 50 per cent cuts to the national recruitment and retention premium (RRP), which is designed to retain staff in short supply.
The changes, which could see their wages drop by around £1,700 a year, would come in next April.
David Roome, regional officer for Unite the Union, which organised the action, is due to be involved in talks with United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust today to try and solve the dispute.
He said: “A craft person’s maximum basic starting salary is £18,402, rising after seven years to £21,798. The RRP loss will mean many of these highly skilled members, most who have worked at these hospitals for many years, struggling to make ends meet.
“ULHT has the ability to negotiate a local RRP agreement, but it has made no attempt to do so, despite numerous attempts by Unite reps to seek meetings.”
A spokesman for United Lincolnshire Hospitals Turst, which runs Pilgrim Hospital, said the action would not impact on patient care throughout the day.
Director of Facilities Management Mike Speakman said: “We are disappointed that Unite the union have chosen to take this action in response to a nationally agreed change. We have been working with them to seek an agreement at a local level and those negotiations continue.
“We are building on the experience of previous industrial action, which with the commitment of our staff meant minimal disruption to services whilst recognising the rights of staff to take action.
“Staff who decide to take industrial action will continue to fulfil their roles as detailed in their job descriptions but will cease on-call cover and withdraw good will. The trust has contingencies in place to help ensure all services continue to be delivered safely and efficiently.
“We do not expect any disruption to patient services and anyone with a hospital appointment must attend as normal.”
Staff are also working to rule at hospitals in Grantham and Lincoln.