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Pharmacy staff return to work after three-month strike, despite unresolved pay dispute

Pharmacy staff in NHS Tayside, who went on strike over a pay dispute, returned to work on 11 November 2019 after three months without a resolution.

In June 2019, pharmacy support workers in Tayside voted unanimously in favour of industrial action over a pay dispute after arguing that they were being held to a lower pay grade than they should be.

The trade union Unite served NHS Tayside with notice of its intention to strike in July 2019. The strike started on 19 August 2019.

However, under UK law, employers can dismiss employees after 12 weeks of strike action if they have tried to settle the dispute.

Unite has been representing Tayside pharmacy staff during the negotiations with the Scottish Terms of Conditions Committee (STAC) — a committee which negotiates terms and conditions disputes for NHS Scotland.

Shona Robertson, Unite’s regional industrial officer, said the union asked the NHS to extend the 12-week cut off “as a good-will gesture, but they refused”.

“There is a further meeting again this week. We just wanted some time to see what came of that,” she said.

Robertson added that to pursue further strike action, Unite will have to ballot members again.

A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said the health board “welcomes our staff”.

They added that the STAC pay grading panel met on 11 November 2019 “as part of the independent process jointly agreed with NHS Tayside and Unite”.

“In accordance with the expectation of the committee, NHS Tayside will accept and implement the outcome,” they said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207323

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