Leeds & West Yorkshire

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust staff begin strike

Clerical and administration staff at three NHS hospitals in West Yorkshire have begun a three-day strike in a row over potential job cuts.

Unison members at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust held a one-day strike earlier in November after 74 employees were sent redundancy letters.

The trust has to save £24m by April 2013.

Plans had been put in place to ensure patients would be unaffected by the action, a trust spokesman said.

The latest action by Unison members at hospitals in Wakefield, Dewsbury and Pontefract follows a ballot in October which saw 88% of those administrative and clerical staff balloted voting in favour of strike action.

'Genuine negotiations'

Jim Bell, Unison's regional organiser, said the three-day strike would be the biggest seen in years at an individual NHS trust in Yorkshire.

He said 370 members were affected by the changes and he expected most of them to take part in the action.

"Our members are angry that the management has flatly refused to negotiate with us," he said.

Unison members at the Mid Yorkshire trust also faced pay cuts of between £1,700 and £2,800 a year, said Mr Bell.

While Unison was always ready for "genuine negotiations" with the hospitals trust, if there was no progress following the three-day strike further industrial action was possible, he said.

Patient Jack Williamson was among those supporting about 40 workers on the picket line at Pinderfields hospital.

He said: "These are the first people a patient sees when they arrive at the hospital.

"They are the foot soldiers, they don't get big wages, £200,000, expenses etc, big luxury cars. The people of this city must back them."

Graham Briggs, from the Mid Yorkshire trust, said the organisation had always been open about what it had to do to achieve the level of savings it faced.

"We remain open to any discussions which will negate the need for staff to take industrial action but we will not compromise on providing patient services," said Mr Briggs.

"Therefore we must look at ways in which can reduce our pay bill while maintaining our services," he said.

The strike is due to finish at midnight on Thursday.

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