New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Unlikely militants

by New Worker correspondent

HEALTH visitors, a group not noted normally noted for their industrial militancy, have been forced into taking two days of strike action next week by the “intransigence” of their employers, Lincolnshire County Council, according to their union, Unite.

The 58 health visitors, belonging to the union’s Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA) section, who voted by an 84 per cent majority for action, are on NHS pay scales. They have had no increases in pay since being transferred to the local authority however, which has different pay rates. Both council and NHS employees have received wage awards, but these health visitors have not. Last year NHS staff in England accepted a three-year pay deal that, for most staff, meant a 6.5 per cent pay rise over three years.

East Midlands Unite official Paresh Patel said: “Unite entered into today’s talks, under the auspices of the conciliation service ACAS, in good faith, but the council bosses have refused to budge and agree to pay our members the rate for the job.

“Our members, who provide vital support for families and children throughout Lincolnshire, have been buoyed up by the fantastic support that they have received from the public who appreciate the work they do, even if the county council doesn’t.”

Union claims that the county’s health visitor members have lost more than £2,000 per year since being transferred from the NHS to the county council in October 2017.

Apart from the pay issue, health visitors are seriously concerned about the downgrading of the health visitors’ professional status, resulting in fewer staff doing the specialist health visitor role. They are particularly irritated that the overwhelmingly Tory council recently handed its former chief executive Keith Ireland a £292,000 pay-off for a mere six months work.

Overall in England there were 7,694 health visitors in January this year, a massive fall of 25 per cent since their peak of more than 10,000 in October 2015 when the Health Visitor Implementation Plan ended, this is the lowest since 2012.