Two periods of strike action by porters in public service union UNISON will go ahead at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital after Trust representatives declined the opportunity to take proposed 12 hour shifts off the table.
Portering staff in UNISON voted to strike for 24 hours from 06:00 on 20 October. This will be followed by an eight hour action from 22:00 on 22 October.
In a meeting in Parliament today (Thursday 19 October), the porters put their case to Ben Bradshaw MP. Mr Bradshaw, who sits on the influential Health Select Committee, has called on RD&E management to avert the strike by withdrawing their threat of 12 hour shifts for porters.
Oliver Foster-Burnell, UNISON Regional Organiser said;
“Voting for strike action was a hard decision for these porters. But 12 hour shifts cannot be achieved safely, either for patients or the porters. The job means walking about twelve miles every eight hour shift while pushing a bed weighing almost 300 kilograms. If management think twelve hour shifts are a good idea, they ought to come down to hospital floor and have a go themselves.
“We are grateful Mr Bradshaw is taking the time to meet with Porters to hear their case, he clearly recognises the importance of this dispute for porters and patients. It is clear other staff are behind the Porters’ cause, as our call to petition the Trust board to intervene has received over 600 signatures in a matter of hours.
“Management claims 12 hour shifts are necessary to increase efficiency. But a report commissioned by the Trust shows that portering services at the RD&E are among the cheapest to operate in the country, costing 50% less than the NHS average. 12 hour shifts are a mistake that will cause danger to patients, and that’s why these porters have been forced out on strike action”