Three-thousand hospital staff will be balloted on strike action in a huge escalation of a dispute over pay and jobs.
Striking admin and clerical staff at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust voted to step up their campaign of industrial action today in protest at redundancies and pay cuts of up to £2,800.
A five-day strike at the trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, ends today after unions vowed to fight the cuts, which they say are targeted at low paid and mainly female staff.
At a rally at Wakefield Town Hall this afternoon, strikers unanimously backed a motion to ballot all 3,000 members of the Mid Yorkshire branch of Unison.
Unison’s Adrian O’Malley told the strikers: “It’s not just about admin and clerical workers any more. It’s about everybody.”
This week’s strike, which also involved memebers of the Unite union, followed four days of action last year in an increasingly bitter dispute with management.
Around 160 members were sent letters of dismissal asking them to sign up for the pay cuts or cease working for the trust.
Strikers burned the letters yesterday in an angry protest at Mid Yorkshire’s board meeting, and are appealing against their dismissals on the grounds that management failed to consult them over the move.
One striker told the rally: “I can’t afford to have my pay downbanded. I struggle to put petrol in my car at the end of the month.”
Mr O’Malley said support for the strike was growing and £27,000 in donations had been received.
He said: “We have had overwhelming support from all over the UK.”
Earlier this week, bosses at Mid Yorkshire accused the unions of failing to negotiate an alternative proposal to save £500,000 without cutting salaries.
Mid Yorkshire said it had made five separate offers to resolve the dispute.
Graham Briggs, Mid Yorkshire’s director of HR, said: “Dismissal and re-engagement is perfectly legitimate and normal practice for changing terms and conditions of service when negotiations and consultation have broken down.”