Health visitors in Lincolnshire hail victory over pay grade dispute

The long-running Lincolnshire health visitors’ dispute will conclude with a pay victory that sees most of the workforce being upgraded.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, today (Thursday 5 December) hailed the victory, which will see the majority of their members move onto the grade 10 pay scale, as ‘highly significant’.

Unite regional officer Steve Syson said: “Thanks to the tremendous solidarity that our members have shown since this dispute started in the summer, we have achieved a highly significant and welcome victory.

“The health visitors’ determination against what they considered as a gross pay injustice was buttressed by the firm backing from the people of Lincolnshire and from supporters across the UK.”

The dispute had surrounded the council’s insistence upon issuing different contracts for grade 9 and grade 10 health visitors, while Unite has consistently argued that since all health visitors have the same qualifications, their salaries should reflect this with equal pay.

As a result of the victory, the health visitors have now suspended their month-long strike action while the authority processes the upgrades; however, Unite reserves the right to reinstitute strike action if the council does not abide with the agreement. In addition to the grade 10 job roles, the health visitors will receive between £2,000- £6,000 in a one-off transitional payment.

More than 70 Unite health visitors voted for the month-long, now suspended, strike that began on 18 November. Of those, around 58 will now be fast tracked to the grade 10 posts with 16 further Agenda for Change (AfC) staff awaiting confirmation; about 13 have left or are departing to take up alternative employment within nursing, leaving only a handful of relatively new health visitors on grade 9.

Unite pledged today that it would explore every avenue in getting those still on grade 9 uplifted to grade 10 as soon as possible.

Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands Paresh Patel added: “I think that a number of factors contributed to this positive outcome, including the fact that the council was, and even now, is continuing to lose highly skilled health visitors at the rate of knots, as our members are offered alternative roles elsewhere in recognition of their experience.

“There was also the stark realisation by council bosses that our members were prepared to take further strike action on top of what they had already taken in the summer, after a second ballot confirmed they were prepared to continue on with further industrial action.

“This victory should be seen in the context of a broader campaign for a fully-resourced health visiting service across England – that fight will continue across the country in 2020.”