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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Divide and Rule

by New Worker correspondent

A LONG-RUNNING pay dispute involving 72 Lincolnshire health visitors is hotting up, they are being balloted for strike action with their county council bosses attempting to ‘divide and rule’ over future job roles.

Unite said the new ballot would not only involve the health visitors who have been denied legitimate pay rises by the council since October 2017, but also health visitors on the lower grade 9 and higher grade 10.

Thirty-two days of strike action with the loss of around 450 shifts have taken place since July over the issue of health visitors having lost more than £2,000 per year since they were transferred from the NHS.

The union argues that because all health visitors have the same community nurse qualifications, the same workplace training and carrying out the health visitor role to the professional standards required by the official Nursing and Midwifery Council, their role is equivalent to a grade 10 job role.

Unite is demanding that all health visitors should therefore be graded and paid accordingly — and that the council’s failure to properly evaluate the role of health visitors will lead to pay inequality, with those on grade 9 and old NHS contracts not being paid for their true job’s worth. It also deplored the county council’s continual refusal to negotiate constructively since strike action originally commenced in the summer, which was having an adverse impact on families with babies and young children.

Regional officer Steve Syson said: “This dispute has now escalated due to the fact that the council has provocatively divided the health visitor role into two separate jobs. This tawdry ‘divide and rule’ sleight-of-hand manoeuvre from this cash rich council, with a surplus of £188 million for 2018/19, needs to be exposed.

“I have been engaging with both grade 9 lower level health visitors, along with grade 10 members, as it will affect their role going forward and, under the career progression scheme, the council is hell-bent on implementing, the grade 10 roles can be held back from pay progression, if they do not meet arbitrary targets set by council bosses.” He warned that if members “don’t vote to take action, they will be accepting the division of the role and for those that don’t move onto a grade 10 it will mean a loss of £4,000 per year, which is totally unacceptable”.