Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Trust staff balloted for strike action

Administrators and medical secretaries are being balloted for strike action as Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust press ahead with up to 12.5% pay cuts as part of a restructure of services.

If the proposals go ahead 53 full-time equivalent posts will be lost and specialised medical secretary roles will disappear.

With fewer staff to deliver the same amount of work UNISON is concerned that these proposals will have a massive impact on the workload of clinical staff and consequently the quality and safety of care.

In December, staff took place in lunchtime demonstrations outside workplaces across the Trust voicing their concerns about the proposals and voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a consultative ballot held earlier this year.

The ballot is open from 1 May to 22 May and any strike action could start in June.

Michael Sweetman, UNISON regional organiser said:

“It is outrageous that these proposals have been sold by the employer as a way to improve consistency and job satisfaction. In reality they represent a dangerous attempt to obtain mental health services on the cheap and furthering the race to the bottom by downgrading staff and reducing their pay.

“Around 100 staff could be impacted by a reduction in pay of up to 12.5%. In some cases this equates to an annual loss of over £3,000. Coupled with the financial loss, the changes being implemented will see an overall increase in workload.

“Mental health support in the UK is already in crisis, with increasing need countered by under-resourcing of services.”

Sue Gill, UNISON member said:

“This restructure has led to many staff, including myself, not feeling valued for the work that we do.

“We’re currently paid at NHS Band 4. The new job descriptions place our roles at Band 3 despite very minimal differences in the work that we’ll be expected to do.

“For a number of years vacancies within the Trust have not been filled and the strain is now showing, I worry what the workload will look like when more staff disappear.

“I could lose almost £200 per month from my pay packet if this restructure goes ahead and whilst I’m close to retirement I’m concerned about the financial impact this will have on my colleagues.”