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Pay strike: health visitors plan walkout as dispute shifts to role regrading

Lincolnshire County Council claims split grades reflect variation in skills and experience 

Lincolnshire County Council claims split grades reflect variation in skills and experience 


Picture: John Cobb

Dozens of health visitors are preparing to strike for the second time this year over a pay row with their local authority employer.

Unite members employed by Lincolnshire County Council voted two thirds in favour of a walkout, after the authority split their role into two different grades, despite all health visitors having the same qualifications and training.

Members will walk out from 18 November to 13 December. The decision follows 32 days of strike action by the health visitors since July, with a loss of around 450 shifts.

Health visitor positions split between two grades

Contracts for health visitors were switched from the NHS to Lincolnshire County Council in 2017, and their role grading has been split between a grade 9 health visitor and grade 10 senior role.

Some on the lower grade have been downgraded in terms of pay and responsibilities, the union says.

A highest paid grade 9 health visitor earns £34,700, whereas they would have been on £35,500 if they were still employed by the NHS.

Health visitors on the lower grade will also lose responsibilities such as safeguarding and leadership.  

‘Divide and rule’ tactics over health visitor roles

Lincolnshire County Council says the move reflects the differing levels of skill and experience in the workforce.

31%

The drop in health visitor numbers in England since 2015

Source: Unite

But Unite, which represents 76 of the council’s 126 health visitors, accused the authority of ‘divide and rule’ tactics.

Unite regional officer Steve Syson said: ‘County council bosses have adopted an unscrupulous stance over future roles. There is now an opportunity for them to enter constructive talks to resolve this dispute.'

Lincolnshire County Council interim director for education Heather Sandy, whose role covers children’s services, said: ‘The council is encouraged by the interest staff have shown in the career progression scheme introduced on 1 October, which opens up new salaries to those staff on static pay grades.’

This article was updated on 4 November 2019.


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