Burnley biomedical scientists joined by union leader at Blackburn strike

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham joined Burnley and Blackburn biomedical scientists striking over pay grades this morning.

By Dominic Collis
Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 3:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 3:22 pm
The scientists on strike
The scientists on strike

Unite represents 21 biomedical scientists at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust who have been on strike since May. The workers are owed back pay of between several hundred pounds to £8,000, after the union says managers failed to honour a 2019 agreement to upgrade their pay.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “I am joining the Blackburn and Burnley Trust scientists on their picket line today because, quite simply, the Trust management reneged on an agreed pay deal for these workers. Now it seems they are determined to save face, at any cost, by obstinately refusing to get back to the negotiating table.”

Unite estimates that the amount the Trust will spend on overtime for non-union staff and extra managers to try and break the strike will reach more than £150,000. In comparison it would cost around £50,000 to pay the striking workers what was agreed.

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Sharon Graham added: “Unite is there to defend the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. When their living standards are under attack, Unite will be unrelenting in defending their rights - including the biomedical scientists at the Blackburn and Burnley NHS Trust."

Speaking in the Burnley Express last month, Kate Quinn, Operational Director of HR at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This action is the latest phase of an ongoing dispute between the Trust and some of our biomedical scientists, which has been a long and difficult process for all involved.

“This action has been ongoing for some weeks now and colleagues in this team have done an incredible job in ensuring patient safety is not compromised by working extra shifts and managers have also stepped in to cover too. We are continuing to support everyone affected and we do want to resolve this as soon as possible so that the team can return to normal.

“We’ve taken part in numerous talks with union colleagues representing Unite to try and resolve this dispute and have always expressed our willingness to keep discussions open.

"The Trust remains confident we have followed a legal process with colleagues and to make further payments would not be appropriate. We will continue to work with everyone and hope to conclude this as soon as possible.”