Two periods of the RD&E porters strike will go ahead at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital after Trust representatives declined the opportunity to take proposed 12 hour shifts off the table.
Portering staff in UNISON voted to strike for 24 hours from 06:00 on 20 October. They will follow this with an eight hour action from 22:00 on 22 October.
In a meeting in Parliament on Thursday 19 October, the porters put their case to Ben Bradshaw MP. Mr Bradshaw, who sits on the influential Health Select Committee, has called for ACAS mediation without preconditions in the dispute.
Oliver Foster-Burnell, UNISON Regional Organiser said;
“Voting for strike action was a hard decision for these porters. But 12 hour shifts cannot be achieved safely, either for patients or the porters. The job means walking about twelve miles every eight hour shift while pushing a bed weighing almost 300 kilograms. If management think twelve hour shifts are a good idea, they ought to come down to hospital floor and have a go themselves.
“We are grateful Mr Bradshaw is taking the time to meet with Porters to hear their case. He clearly recognises the importance of this dispute for porters and patients. It is clear other staff are behind the Porters’ cause, as our call to petition the Trust board to intervene has received over 600 signatures in a matter of hours.
“Management claims 12 hour shifts are necessary to increase efficiency. But a report commissioned by the Trust shows that portering services at the RD&E are among the cheapest to operate in the country, costing 50% less than the NHS average. 12 hour shifts are a mistake that will cause danger to patients. That’s why these porters have been forced out on strike action”
Talks over RD&E strike not worthwhile until 12 hour shifts scrapped, says UNISON
Public service union UNISON has called out claims by NHS management that this weekend’s RD&E porters strike could be solved through ACAS talks.
UNISON organiser Oliver Foster-Burnell said:
“These porters are striking as a last resort to protect their patients and their health. After eighteen months of no compromise by management there simply wasn’t another option.
“We notified the Trust of the RD&E porters strike a fortnight ago and invited them to restart negotiations to avoid it. They ignored our offiers. For the Trust to accuse the porters of refusing talks is pretty rich.
“Now the Trust have woken up and are demanding talks, but they still refuse to take 12 hour shifts off the table. The shifts are the crux of the matter. Without assurances these harmful shift patterns will be scrapped, there is little scope to negotiate”