Unite has announced that the campaign for pay justice for Lincolnshire health visitors will take centre stage at the TUC Congress in Brighton on Tuesday 10 September.
Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, is scheduled to highlight the plight of the 58 health visitors, who have been denied legitimate pay rises by Lincolnshire county council since October 2017, during the debate on local government. She will also call on Congress to show its solidarity.
The dispute centres on Unite’s calculation that its health visitor members have lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS to Lincolnshire county council in October 2017. There is also serious concern about the erosion of the health visitors’ professional standards.
Gail Cartmail said: “Lincolnshire health visitors have taken 18 days of strike action and are now beginning a nine day run of continuous industrial action.
“The strike is unprecedented in the health visiting profession. Since they were transferred from the NHS they have been on the receiving end of a three year pay freeze and been robbed of more than £2,000.
“Added to this pay cut, cuts to local government and concerns about the downgrading of health visitors’ professional status is resulting in less staff doing the specialist health visitor role.
“I will be asking TUC Congress to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Lincolnshire health visitors in their struggle for pay justice and highlighting the health visitor profession’s proud history of independent advocacy.
“It is a history stretching back to the pioneering women who supported women’s suffrage, working in slums alongside the likes of Sylvia Pankhurst as they fought appalling deprivation.
“As the women’s suffrage movement demanded ‘action in deeds, not words.’ Unite will leave no stone unturned in supporting the Lincolnshire health visitors in their battle for pay justice and the defence of their profession.”
A delegation of Lincolnshire health visitors will be at Brighton as their colleagues start a week-long strike running from Monday 9 September until Friday 13 September inclusively. This will be on the top of the 17 days already taken. A further 48-hour stoppage has also been announced from 00:01 on Monday 16 September
The health visitors are on the NHS Agenda for Change pay scales, but have had no increases in pay since being transferred to the local authority which has different pay rates – even though both council and NHS employees have received wage awards, these health visitors have not.
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), is also seriously concerned about the downgrading of the health visitors’ professional status, resulting in fewer staff doing the specialist health visitor role.