Administrators and medical secretaries employed by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust will stage workplace walkouts today, Thursday, as a dispute continued with the Trust over a restructure of roles.

The walkouts will take place simultaneously at thirteen workplaces across the Trust between 12:30 and 1pm.

Michael Sweetman, UNISON regional organiser said:

“It is outrageous that these proposals have been sold by the employer as a way to improve consistency and job satisfaction. In reality they represent a dangerous attempt to obtain mental health services on the cheap and furthering the race to the bottom by downgrading staff and reducing their pay.

“Mental health support in the UK is already in crisis, with increasing need countered by under-resourcing of services.”

Sue Gill, UNISON member said:

“This restructure has led to many staff, including myself, not feeling valued for the work that we do.

“We’re currently paid at NHS Band 4. The new job descriptions place our roles at Band 3 despite very minimal differences in the work that we’ll be expected to do.

“I could lose almost £200 per month from my pay packet if this restructure goes ahead and whilst I’m close to retirement I’m concerned about the financial impact this will have on my colleagues.”

However Simon Truelove, deputy chief executive of the trust said: “At 11.45am we issued an offer to UNISON in an attempt to resolve the current dispute and to avoid formal strike action. This offer is very generous and exceeds what UNISON has signed up to around current pay protection policy and is a genuine offer to resolve the dispute for the sake of the administration staff, many of whom are keen to move forward from the current impasse, as are we.

“Once we have resolved the dispute, we will ensure that every effort is put into a successful implementation of the new structures, in partnership with staff representatives, renewing our commitment to on-going partnership working, with the Joint Union Council including UNISON.

“We regret the strength of feeling and distress that the review has caused, which was never the intention of anyone working on this important change.”