Lincolnshire health visitors to vote on strike action over pay

Health visitors in Lincolnshire will vote on Friday over whether to strike about pay.

The vote will run from October 11 until  October 25 and involves all health visitors, not just those on lower pay.

The ballot, organised by the union Unison, claims Lincolnshire County Council has failed  to properly evaluate the role of health visitors and has created a two tier health visitor role.

A union spokesman said: “Unite is not in agreement with the current structure with regard to the division of a health visitor into two separate job descriptions with two different contracts.”

Steve Styson, regional officer at Unite, which represents one third of Lincolnshire’s health visiting workforce, backs the strike. He said staff have lost up to £2,000 a year since being transferred from the NHS to Lincolnshire County Council in 2017.

He said: “This dispute has now escalated due to the fact the council has provocatively divided the health visitor role into two separate jobs.

“We are now balloting all our health visitor members for a new mandate for strike action as the council’s imposition of a two tier role and its push to recruit into these roles has pushed our hand.

“I hope all our members fully support this ballot because if they don’t vote to take action they will be accepting the division of the role.”

Unite said the council’s refusal to negotiate since strike action began in the summer was having an adverse impact on Lincolnshire families.

Staff went on strike in July and August, the first time they have  taken action over pay. They have not worked for 32 days since July with the loss of 450 shifts.

Heather Sandy, interim director of education at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We are committed to working collaboratively with the workforce and would welcome further constructive talks with Unite.

“While a small number of health visitors have taken industrial action, the vast majority of our valued workforce have continued to work as normal and are providing the necessary care for Lincolnshire’s families.”

Health visitors are trained nurses who have additional specialist qualifications in working with children and families. They provide care from before a child is born until the age of five.

There are 126 health visitors in Lincolnshire and 72 are union members.