Staff employed by Addaction in the North West took two days of strike action this week, in their struggle against broken promises over pay.
The 31 drug and alcohol support workers in Wigan and Leigh were previously employed by the NHS, but the service, which is commissioned by Wigan Council, was transferred to the London-based charity.
Workers continued to receive pay rises in line with those of NHS employees and were given assurances by the organisation’s managers that this would continue into the future.
However, when the 1% pay cap in the NHS was removed from April 2018, Addaction refused to implement the promised wage rise.
After exhausting the internal grievance process, staff were balloted by UNISON, with a 100% vote in favour of strike action.
A third round of Acas talks will take place on Tuesday 24 September to find an end to the dispute.
Leigh MP Jo Platt (pictured above, speaking at a strike rally yesterday, Thursday) and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy have thrown their support behind the striking workers.
Ms Nandy said: “Supporting people to overcome drug and alcohol addiction is an incredibly tough job and makes a difference for every single one of us in Wigan.
“Addaction’s employees deserve the pay settlement they were promised when they moved from the NHS to Addaction, and I am determined to stand with them and with UNISON to make sure they get it.”
UNISON rep Kathryn Herbert, who is a drug and alcohol worker, explained that staff were “incredibly disappointed and feel very let down”.
She said: “We didn’t plan to strike, but the lack of empathy shown towards us has actually strengthened our resolve and leaves us with no alternative but to continue our strike action for fair pay.”
UNISON North West regional manager Kevin Lucas said: “It’s simply wrong that Addaction bosses take public money from our local council and yet refuse to pay staff the proper rate for the job.
“Many workers turned down the opportunity to take jobs within the health service as they were assured they would continue to receive full NHS pay when they transferred to Addaction. The employer refused to honour this commitment at the first opportunity.
“These committed staff remain steadfast in their demand for the pay rise repeatedly promised by Addaction. Meanwhile, their employer delays and obfuscates at every turn, showing no desire to resolve what is ultimately a simple issue.
“We hope it proves third time lucky at Acas and Addaction arrives ready to pay staff what they’re owed. This is the only way to end the ongoing strike.”