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Determined Dundee porters ratchet up pressure
Ninewells and Royal Victoria hospital porters are eight weeks into an all-out strike which is set to become the longest running in Dundee since the Timex lock-out of 1993.
The pressure on NHS Tayside management and now the Scottish government has been ratcheted up by the determined 120 workers, striking for a band two pay grading and compensation for years of underpayment.
Regular reports of hospital refuse going uncollected and photographs of rubbish piling up are widely circulated. NHS bosses clearly hoped to rely on so-called "goodwill" - in reality pressure from the bosses - of other health workers to fill in for the striking porters.
In practice, band seven and eight managers are taking on much of the work, alongside so-called "volunteers." But this arrangement is clearly failing to even cover the porters' basic duties.
A letter sent to nursing staff last week requested that: "wards/departments make arrangements for staff to collect the ward's clean linen trolley and deposit the used trolley on a daily basis".
In response the nursing union RCN hit back: "Registered nurses and health care support workers have got enough to do without taking on the duties of other staff during industrial action."
As a Unite steward commented to the Socialist: "This is a breach of even basic health and safety regulations. Nursing and other support staff don't have either the safety footwear or the experience of operating the trolleys.
"They should be spending more time settling the dispute rather than asking other NHS workers to cover for a strike the management are responsible for creating in the first place."
A protest outside Scottish National Party MSP and Scottish heath minister Shona Robison's offices resulted in the minster agreeing to meet with the shop stewards.
Unite senior steward Ronnie Heeney said: "The minster made all the right noises, but then again she did the same seven weeks ago when we last spoke to her. We said again that if the proposed mechanism for settling the strike - the Scottish Terms and Conditions Committee (STAC) review - did not come up with a decent offer, it will not be binding and the strike will continue."
STAC is due to make a proposal the week beginning 1 June. The porters are taking two coaches to protest at the Scottish parliament on Thursday 28 May.
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