Health visitors are set for another month strikes in their dispute over pay with Lincolnshire County Council.
The authority however, says union Unite is asking for “financially unsustainable” solutions. They say that many of the issues are national rather than local.
More than 70 health visitors were balloted for a decision on whether to strike from Monday, November 18, until Friday, December 13 over pay levels and what they call the erosion of their professional responsibilities.
The staff, who transferred over from the NHS in 2017, claim they are being denied pay rises equivalent to their health service counterparts.
They say they have lost more than £2,000 a year in real terms and have called for a two-tier progression system to be scrapped due to both roles requiring the same qualifications.
Unite, which represents 76 of the 126 health visitors, says more than 20 have left or are leaving since the dispute started in the summer.
They say 32 days (around 450 shifts) have been lost since the first bout of strike action in July.
Regional officer Steve Syson said: “The decision to hold a month-long strike demonstrates the deepening crisis in the county’s health visitor service and the adverse impact this is having on Lincolnshire families and children.
“Now is the time for the council to come to the table to resolve this dispute once and for all before the strike begins. Already the council is haemorrhaging health visitors.”
The union argues the lower tier of the suggested progression will essentially lead to a £4,000 pay cut and a total £150,000 loss for the staff over their work-life with the council.
Heather Sandy, interim director of education at the authority at Lincolnshire County Council said the action was “disappointing” and had come “despite constructive discussions”.
“In Lincolnshire, we have increased the number of health visitors (including in areas of deprivation), we have maintained the number of visits families receive from a health visitor and we have increased pay for this workforce in line and above the NHS.”
She said the new progression scheme meant “no staff member has to remain on a static salary” and enabled them to be rewarded “beyond that available in the NHS”.
“Unite’s suggestion that all health visitors should have a starting salary £4000 above their colleagues in the health service is financially unsustainable and would have serious implications for bordering NHS service recruitment,” she said.