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Pharmacy support workers to strike amid ‘interference’ by health minister

Pharmacy support workers at NHS Tayside will take continuous strike action commencing Monday 19 August amid claims of ‘interference’ by the cabinet secretary for health and sport, Jeane Freeman MSP.

The dispute relates to a flawed job evaluation process which Unite believes has led to a number of grading issues leaving pharmacy support Workers being paid at a lower grade than they should be. NHS Tayside admitted that the job evaluation process was not followed through to its rightful conclusion and Unite’s members were not given a right of appeal. A previous ballot of pharmacy support workers held in June resulted in a 90 per cent turnout with 100 per cent indicating support for industrial action including strike action.

Initial progress was made in joint talks between Unite and NHS Tayside. These talks were designed to bring forward an independent process that could effectively deal with appeals in relation to grading issues. However, these talks collapsed following direction by the cabinet secretary for health and sport for NHS Tayside to end the negotiations on the establishment of an independent process. Unite is demanding an immediate response on the NHS Tayside dispute following a letter on 12 August having not been responded to by the cabinet secretary with strike action now imminent.

Unite is also requesting urgent clarity on the reasons given for the termination of discussions between NHS Tayside and Unite on the creation of an independent process, which has now triggered the industrial action by pharmacy support Workers for the first time in NHS Tayside’s history. In contrast, NHS Ayrshire and Arran has agreed to the creation of an independent panel to deal with outstanding grading issues.

Susan Robertson, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “Pharmacy support workers in NHS Tayside have been severely let down by the cabinet secretary for health and sport. Talks between Unite and NHS Tayside had been making significant progress to the extent we believed a process for dealing with the outstanding grading issues was on the brink of being agreed to which could end the dispute. NHS Ayrshire and Arran have already agreed to this process. However, Jeane Freeman directly intervened to bring the talks to an end between both parties on the creation of this independent process, which has now created the situation whereby pharmacy support workers will strike for the first time ever from Monday (19 August).”

“Let’s remember that in a turnout of 90 per cent, every single Unite member voted for strike action, and action short of a strike. This shows the level of anger and frustration our members feel after years of neglect. With the many health issues facing the cabinet secretary it's absolutely staggering that she has taken the time to directly interfere and escalate this dispute. The public of Tayside must understand that the strike action will now take place due to this political interference, and their anger must be turned towards the cabinet secretary.”

ENDS

For further information or interviews contact: Susan Robertson on 07885805133

  • Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.

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