Strikers burn dismissal letters at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust

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Striking NHS workers threatened with the sack burned their dismissal letters outside Pinderfields Hospital this morning.

Admin and clerical staff set fire to the letters during a protest against redundancies and pay cuts of up to £2,800.

Union members have been staging a five-day strike in an escalating dispute at cash-trapped Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust.

They protested before today’s meeting of Mid Yorkshire’s board after bosses sent letters of dismissal to around 160 workers, asking them to sign up to the pay cuts or cease working for the trust.

Public sector union Unison has vowed to fight the pay cuts, which it says are targeted at low paid and mainly female workers.

The latest stoppage followed four days of strike action last year.

Earlier, Jim Bell, Unison’s regional organiser, said: “They are banking on people being bullied into accepting new terms. They are using the nuclear option rather than the negotiation option.”

Mid Yorkshire said 162 staff were sent dismissal and re-engagement letters.

Graham Briggs, the trust’s director of HR, said: “Dismissal and re-engagement is perfectly legitimate and normal practice for changing terms and conditions of service when negotiations and consultation have broken down.”

Bosses at Mid Yorkshire have made five offers to try and resolve the dispute.

They accused the unions of failing to work with them on an alternative proposal to make savings of £500,000 without downgrading salaries.

But Mr Bell said there were too many conditions attached, and Mid Yorkshire had also insisted that Unison worked with private consultancy company Ernst and Young on the alternative proposal.

Unison is furious that the Ernst and Young has been paid more than £3m by Mid Yorkshire to draw up cost-saving plans.

In December alone, the company was paid £425,000.

But Stephen Eames, Mid Yorkshire’s chief executive, said any decision to involve Ernst and Young in the alternative plan would have to be endorsed by the trust board.

He said: “We will not be deploying Ernst and Young.”