Lockout of workers in Pathology dept at Northampton general hospital, photo by Terry Lodge

Lockout of workers in Pathology dept at Northampton general hospital, photo by Terry Lodge   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Locked-out Northampton hospital pathology staff “cannot give in”

78 Unite members in the Pathology department at Northampton General Hospital have been locked out of work by a vicious management. Since 26 June they have maintained a protest outside the hospital. Steve Score went to support the protest on Tuesday 1 July, and spoke to Terry Lodge, lead Unite rep at the hospital who works in the department.

“The management have imposed new terms and conditions and refused to properly negotiate. Out of hours payments have been slashed by 80%! At the same time workers are being forced to double the number of night shifts they have to work. Many NHS workers rely on enhanced pay for out of hours work to make up for their low basic pay.

There was an overwhelming vote for action short of a strike, but which was not going to affect patient lives. It began on 26 June, but the management response was to lock us out. We are banned from going into work, they want us to sign the new contracts. The 90-day notices are meant to start today (1 July).

This is the sort of thing you would expect to happen at a mill 150 years ago! They do not want to allow the union to take any kind of action. It is no longer a local issue. If they get away with this it will start to happen elsewhere.

They want to erode our pay and conditions so they can prepare for privatisation. They claim to have been cutting the “fat” from the NHS for years, but now they are cutting into the bone.

We cannot give in as it will mean workers going back under terrible conditions. We have an online petition accessible from the Unite website, have been into the town centre to build support, and continue to turn up to protest outside the A&E department everyday from 9 to 5.”

Please send messages of support to [email protected]

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 2 July 2014 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.