‘Locked out’ NHS workers are taking to Northampton town centre today dressed in vampire outfits, handcuffs and gags as protests over pay and working hours roll into the 19th day.
A total of 78 biomedical scientists, who work in the pathology department of Northampton General Hospital, claim they are being ‘bullied by their employers into signing contracts that will see the staff work longer for less pay.
Today 40 of the workers posed outside the hospital’s accident and emergency department wearing gags and handcuffs in protest over contracts, which they were last week told to sign or face being sacked.
Some could face a pay cut of up to £6,000.
A team of `Draculas’ from the Unite union will take to Northampton town centre throughout the day until around 3.30pm as part of the protest.
So far 5,000 names have been gathered on a petition against the changes to pay and hours, but talks aimed at resolving the dispute broke down last week.
Ahead of the protest, Mick Orpin, Unite’s regional officer, said: “This is the most appalling case of intimidation by a NHS employer I have ever encountered.
“These tactics are more akin to aggressive, union-loathing employers who believe that threat is the only way to manage.
“There is simply no place for this sort of aggression in our public services, least of all in our NHS which is built upon professionalism and cooperation.
“I say to Dr Sonia Swart, the trust’s CEO, to think again. NGH ought to be a beacon for our community, not a place of fear for its workforce.”
The average biomedical scientist, who work primarily in analysing blood samples, earns between £21,000 and £35, 000 a year. Pathology support staff earn £18,000 a year.
The new contracts will see workers required to double their night time shifts from seven days in 14 weeks, to 14 days in 14 weeks, while out-of-hours payments are to be cut by 80 per cent.