Lincolnshire health visitors ballot for second strike

Women holding up placards Image copyright Unite
Image caption Nearly 60 Unite members walked out in July in a dispute over lost pay after their contracts were transferred from the NHS to the county council two years ago

A row over pay could see more than 70 health visitors in Lincolnshire strike a second time.

Members of the Unite union are to be balloted again following "failed" talks and a walk-out in July.

The union said workers had been "denied" pay rises for two years and different contracts were bring created that could lead to "pay inequality".

Lincolnshire Council said it would "welcome further constructive talks with Unite".

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Unite's regional officer Steve Syson said the authority had split the role into two different grades, despite all health visitors having the same qualifications and training.

"This tawdry 'divide and rule' sleight-of-hand manoeuvre from this cash-rich council, with a surplus of £188m for 2018-19, needs to be exposed," he said.

"The council's blinkered action has already led to some of our very experienced members leaving their jobs to seek alternative employment where their qualifications are better respected and this drift will continue."

NHS staff in England accepted a three-year pay deal in 2018, resulting in a 6.5% pay rise for the majority of staff.

But contracts for health visitors were switched from the NHS to Lincolnshire Council in 2017, meaning workers have lost about £2,000 a year compared to NHS staff, the union said.

Heather Sandy, the interim director of education at Lincolnshire County Council, said the authority "valued the professionalism and work of our health visitors" and was "committed to working collaboratively with the workforce".

"We introduced a career progression scheme in October to allow those staff on frozen salaries to progress," she said.

Nearly 60 union members went on strike in the summer and a ballot of 72 members will begin on Friday and run for two weeks.

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