Health visitors, trained nurses who attend to patients at home, employed by Lincolnshire County Council and who are members of the trade union Unite, are undertaking strike action in an ongoing pay dispute.
The 48-hour period of industrial action started on Monday 15 July 2019 at the council’s operating site in Newland, Lincoln; 84% of Unite members based at the council voted in favour of the strike.
The dispute regards 58 health visitors who have been transferred from the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale to instead be paid under the local authority wage rate. Unite has stated that, although Lincolnshire County Council staff and NHS employees have both received pay awards, these specific health visitors have not.
The trade union has argued that its health visitor members employed by Lincolnshire County Council have lost more than £2,000 a year since being transferred from the NHS to the council in October 2017.
Talks in conjunction with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) have so far proved unsuccessful in resolving the dispute.
Steve Syson, regional officer at Unite, said: “We believe [this is] the first time that the county’s health visitors will have taken strike action in defence of their pay and professional standards.
“It is a sad indictment of the council’s bosses that they have allowed the situation to reach this stage. Unite’s door remains open for constructive talks at any time to settle this dispute for the benefit of our members and, ultimately, for the welfare of the families of Lincolnshire.”
Heather Sandy, interim director of education at Lincolnshire County Council, added: “The county council has always valued the professionalism and work of our health visitors and the support they provide to Lincolnshire families. We were keen to avoid strike action, which has been threatened by the Unite union [and] represents approximately one third of our health visiting workforce.
“We met with representatives from Unite, facilitated by Acas and, despite constructive discussions, we were unable to reach an agreement. The council remains open to ongoing discussions.
“We wish to reassure the public that we have plans in place to cover absences, particularly in the most vulnerable areas, such as safeguarding and primary birth visits. No-one will be left without support.”