Healthcare assistant strike postponed at Friarage and James Cook hospitals

The Friarage Hospital.

Strikes by healthcare assistants at the Friarage and James Cook hospitals have been suspended to allow pay talks to take place, says UNISON.

​Healthcare assistants were due to walk out for a fifth time with two further days of action next week as part of their campaign to get better wage rates and fair back pay.

Staff employed by North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been campaigning for a better deal.

The trusts have accepted that the workers have been carrying out tasks at the higher band and have agreed to regrade them.  ​

But the stumbling block has been that the trusts have only offered to backdate the changes to July 2021, a decision which was rejected by staff, says UNISON.

​The union has repeatedly asked the trusts to negotiate a resolution to the dispute, but in the absence of this, staff have had little choice but to continue to walk out. ​

However, the trusts have now agreed to enter talks so UNISON has paused next week’s strike action.

​UNISON Northern regional secretary Clare Williams said: “It’s good to see that the trusts are listening to staff at last and have agreed to meet for proper talks.

​“It was clear from the start of this campaign that healthcare assistants were not going to back down and would fight for the pay and recognition they deserve.

​“Hopefully an agreement can be reached so there is no need for further strikes or disruption to patients. The ball is now in the employers’ court. If the talks fail, staff could be back on strike and no one wants that.”

​James Cook University Hospital healthcare assistant Tracy said: “Getting a pay rise and fair back pay is a big deal to us. I’m pleased the trust has decided to negotiate.

​“We’ve all been working so hard for many years carrying out tasks we weren’t paid properly for. Many of us were even trained to do them by the trust.

​“The trust must recognise our efforts, pay us properly and give us fair back pay to end the dispute.”​