NHS workers strike in Newcastle

Over 600 staff at hospitals in Newcastle were out on a 24 hour strike this week with more potential action coming up.

Submitted by Steven. on November 3, 2005

The industrial action is the result of new Agenda for Change rules which allow new staff to earn more than staff with many years of experience.

This has seen staff with more than 20 years of experience being paid 20p an hour less than colleagues who are new to the job.

In the latest ballot, 553 Unison members in the city returned 46% of ballot papers, with the majority voting for the overtime ban and Monday's strike.

The action involved workers at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, the Newcastle General Hospital and the Freeman Hospital ,including to housekeeping, catering, sterile services, portering and security services.

Many employees, who have been working in these areas for three years or less, are now earning £6.07 an hour compared to just £5.87 for those with years of experience.

About 150 catering, laundry and domestic staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead also complained to union bosses about their pay.

Although no vote for strike action has been taken at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, workers still remain unhappy with the pay deal. Laundry worker June Cope, 54, who has worked at the Queen Elizabeth for seven years, said: "We are no further forward. Nothing seems to be happening at the minute."

A review meeting will be held tomorrow where the possibility of further strikes will be discussed.