Lincolnshire health visitors stage 48-hour strike action in pay row

Women holding up placards Image copyright Unite
Image caption The union claims members lost cash after their contracts were transferred from the NHS to the county council two years ago,

Health visitors in Lincolnshire have started a 48-hour strike action in a dispute over pay.

Union Unite said 58 of its members had walked out because they had not received a pay increase for two years.

Workers lost more than £2,000 a year compared with NHS staff after their contracts were switched from the NHS to the council in 2017, the union said.

The authority said it had a "competitive pay structure in place" and valued the health visitors' work.

Unite said it had planned further industrial action with 24-hour strikes on 19 and 22 July, followed by a 48-hour walk-out on 25 July after talks with the council had "failed to resolve the dispute".

Last year NHS staff in England accepted a three-year pay deal resulting in a 6.5% pay rise for the majority of staff, the union said.

Steve Syson, Unite regional officer, said there was a serious concern about "the downgrading of the health visitors' professional status, resulting in fewer staff doing the specialist health visitor role".

Heather Sandy, the interim director of education at Lincolnshire County Council, said: "What the union's doing is comparing it to the pay increase that the NHS had and we haven't been able to apply that cost increase into the statutory pay conditions.

"But we have got a competitive pay structure, which actually goes beyond the NHS."

The council added it remained "open to ongoing discussions" and reassured the public that plans were in place "to cover absences".

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