Labour leader and postal union offer support to Northampton pathologists on strike

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Postal workers in Northampton have offered financial support and solidarity to the Northampton General Hospital pathologists who are currently on strike.

A total of 700 members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) who work at Royal Mail’s South Midlands Mail Centre in Swan Valley have signed petitions calling for the dispute between the staff and Northampton General Hospital to be resolved.

The CWU also made a £1000 donation to the strike fund to assist the hospital workers who are now into their 11th day of strike action.

Gareth Eales, Area Processing Representative for the CWU, said “it is a privilege to offer our solidarity with these workers in their time of need.

“Postal workers and members of the CWU have been through many disputes over the years and we know how much we value the support of other workers and unions during those hard times.

“The treatment that these workers are having to endure is shocking and should not happen in 21st century Britain, its a throwback to a bygone era.”

Kate Hudson, CWU Assistant Midlands Regional Secretary, said the CWU proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with the Unite members.

Councillor John McGhee, leader of the labour group for Northamptonshire County Council, has also given his backing to the hospital staff on strike.

Councillor McGhee said he thought the reaction to the strike by the hospital had been “disproportionate”.

He said: “The management decision to refuse them entry to the labs shows how these professional and highly qualified scientists are completely undervalued. Temporary, agency workers won’t be able to provide the same high quality service and their use puts patients’ safety at risk.

“The hospital should put an end to the lockout to ensure that the high-quality services are maintained.”

However, a spokesman for Northampton General Hospital said patients were safe despite the ongoing dispute and said the hospital was still running a 24/7 pathology service.

A spokesman said: “Turnaround times for urgent tests have not been affected and most departments have not noticed any impact. Patient safety has not been compromised at any time.

“Pathology tests are not being sent to other hospitals because of any backlog. We have a system in place whereby non-urgent specialist tests can be sent out to a private laboratory. This is normal practice for us, and we can confirm that some tests have been sent to this laboratory this week in line with that longstanding arrangement.”

“Last Thursday when the strike action began there was a backlog of work left by the staff, which then had to be cleared. We also needed to resolve IT issues and find missing manuals. These unexplained minor issues were quickly addressed in line with the contingency plans. No further issues have arisen since this time and there was no impact on patient safety.”