The threat of industrial action by pathology staff at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust is on the cards, Unite, the union, has warned.
The threat comes in the wake of proposals by trust managers, which could slash up to £6,000-a-year off some salaries of the bio-medical scientists and is the last straw for many staff, who have seen £200 million spent on re-development of the Salford hospital site.
This dispute follows the merger with Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh’s pathology services last April and is centred on plans to downgrade already demoralised staff.
Unite regional officer, Gary Owen said: “Our members are not just worried about cuts to their pay – they are also concerned about their future career prospects, if they are downgraded. This is on top of the national public sector pay freeze and increases in their pension contributions.
“We have been in negotiation with the trust since last summer and during that time we have made some progress towards reaching a resolution.
“However, our members were asked in a consultative ballot on whether or to not accept or reject the trust's final offer, and last week that result showed a rejection.
"As a result, our members have instructed me to organise a ballot for strike action or industrial action short of a strike. The ballot papers should be sent out next week and the result known towards the end of February.
“In the meantime, local managers are meeting with staff individually, and are asking them to sign an individual agreement to settle the dispute. This is disappointing, and seeks to undermine the collective and I shall be advising members not to accept.
"Our members did not ask for this re-organisation, and should not have to pay for it by facing a future reduction in their salaries – in some cases, to the tune of £6,000-a-year.”
Gary Owen gave assurances to the public, that if industrial action went ahead, emergency cover would be in place.
He said: “These are qualified professional healthcare scientists, who provide diagnostic tests on GP samples and on samples from hospital inpatients and outpatients, often in emergency situations that can mean the difference between life and death.”
A typical biomedical scientist earns between £21,000 - £35,000-a-year, with a small minority above that figure. They will have a university degree, plus additional post-graduate training.