Northampton Hospital lab staff told to work normally or stay away

Laboratory staff in dispute over working hours and pay at Northampton General Hospital have been "locked out", a union claims.

Bosses want pathology lab staff to work 14 instead of seven night shifts every 14 weeks with reduced unsocial hours pay, Unite union said.

Staff could not agree to losing £6,000 pay and were "locked out", Unite said.

The hospital said union measures were "unpredictable", so staff had been asked to work normally or not come in.

'Maximum disruption'

Eighty staff were still working and patient sample testing was continuing "safely and efficiently" because most systems were automated, chief executive Dr Sonia Swart said.

Disruption had been going on for two weeks with 53 pathology staff refusing overtime, striking or working to rule, she said. Unite had aimed to cause "maximum disruption" short of a full withdrawal of labour.

"But these measures were potentially so unpredictable that patients would have been put at risk," she said. Staff were asked to either work as normal or not to come in at all.

Gail Cartmail, Unite assistant general secretary, said: "Eighty-four per cent of the hospital's pathology department have been locked out of the workplace.

"Unite will do what it takes to make sure that this type of strong-armed, bully-boy tactic is not the future for industrial relations in the NHS."

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