Glasgow medical secretaries: Victory Over Low Pay

Glasgow medical secretaries: Victory Over Low Pay

STRIKING MEDICAL secretaries in Glasgow have won a massive victory for low paid NHS workers. Medical secretaries in North Glasgow Hospitals UNISON branch have been taking industrial action since the beginning of August.

Jim McFarlane, CWI Scotland

All-out strike action began on 22 October. Strike action has been solid from the beginning and workers not involved directly in the dispute have shown their solidarity.

Within days of the all-out action beginning, management were forced back to the negotiating table with an improved offer, due to the strength of the action. The offer represented a huge shift in the hospital Trust’s position.

All medical secretaries now have access to a higher pay scale. The action has also won arrears of the claim backdated to October 2000, averaging around £1,200 for every member. Management have also agreed to reinstate all holiday entitlement that was deducted as a result of the action.

Branch secretary and Scottish Socialist Party member Carolyn Leckie said: “Our members are delighted that their action has been successful. I am glad that the Trust and the Branch have been able to reach agreement. Standing up and fighting works. Throughout this dispute we have had the support of other trade unionists and the general public. Public service workers don’t take strike action lightly. I hope that this will help to improve the confidence of other workers in improving their conditions.”

Frances Lyall, striking medical secretary and UNISON Steward said: “This is recognition at last of the justness of our claim. NHS workers, including porters, cleaners etc are undervalued. We have secured improved recognition for the job we do. But like the majority of employees in the NHS, we remain underpaid. There is still a lot to be done. I hope that this is the start of the end of low pay in the NHS.”

This significant victory in Glasgow shows the potential of all workers to fight and win. This group of underpaid women workers have shown that where a bold lead is given, action can force change.

National trade union leaders should show the same courage and conviction as those workers in taking on the bosses and the Labour government in fighting to defend our jobs and public services.