Hopes to avert industrial action by radiographers at James Paget Hospital
Bosses at the James Paget University Hospital say they are confident that last-minute talks with radiographers will put a stop to planned industrial action.
Members of the Society of Radiographers voted unanimously to refuse to provide out-of-hours and weekend cover from 5.15pm tomorrow (Friday) following a dispute over new conditions for staff working out-of-hours.
But crisis talks to avert the industrial action have ended positively, and while many of the details will still need to be ironed out in the coming weeks, the union said it was hopeful it would be able to put a halt to the action.
The dispute arose following changes to radiographers' on-call terms and conditions, which came into force on September 1.
The hospital argued the new arrangements were in line with nationally negotiated conditions of service, have been in place within other areas of the trust for a number of years and are an attempt to ensure fairness for staff working out-of-hours across the trust as a whole.
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Negotiations have been ongoing since April, but the union said staff were angered that when the new conditions came in there was no transition arrangement to help cushion the drop in wages experienced by some staff.
Kirk Lower, director of workforce and estates at the James Paget, said the two sides had agreed to terms of reference for reopening negotiations on how staff take 'compensatory rest', for example how they get their time back when their right to a certain amount of rest between shifts is broken because they were on call.
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He said the hospital had also offered pay protection arrangements to help staff through the pay changes.
He added: 'We all recognised we were in a difficult situation and had to work hard to bring things back from the brink.
'I'm confident we have now reached an agreement and the industrial action will be called off. We should know for certain very early tomorrow.'
The Unite union, which has members working in pharmacy and pathology at the hospital, has informed the hospital of its intention to ballot members on industrial action.
Mr Lower said the same terms and conditions offered to the radiographers could now be offered to Unite staff, and he hoped that it would also avert any potential industrial action.
He said: 'Having now reached an agreement with the radiographers, clearly we have got the shape of an agreement that we could now reach with Unite.'