UNISON negotiators meet with ACAS in bid to resolve porters’ strike

UNISON negotiators are today meeting at ACAS in a bid to resolve the porters’ strike at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital.

The porters are angry at plans to move them from a eight-hour to a 12-hour shifts – a move they say will lead to increased fatigue and sickness, affecting patient care.

The UNISON members earlier this month took two days’ strike action and have threatened to take further action from 6pm on November 3 to 6am on November 6 unless managers agree to talks having first removed the 12-hour shift plan from the table.

UNISON regional organiser Oliver Foster-Burnell said: “Porters are determined not to let the trust force through dangerous and unnecessary 12 hour shifts. They do not like striking, not least because they lose a day of their already low pay. But UNISON porters will strike again if the trust refuses to listen. After 18 months of trying to convince the trust to compromise, this is their only option.”

UNISON South West regional secretary Joanne Kaye said: “The clinical and academic evidence points to fatigue and tiredness when working 12 hours shifts. This contributes to absenteeism and job dissatisfaction amongst staff. This would clearly be the case with staff such as Porters undertaking such physical work.

“There is a reason why Porters in the majority of NHS organisations don’t work 12 hour shifts. There is a clear link between working long hours and risk of illness, injury and poor decision making.

“The evidence indicates the delivery of patient care is poorer when working 12 hour shifts. It also shows that the communication skills and reflexes needed for the job are impaired when working long shifts. The fact that some employers are going back to 8 hour shifts reinforces this view.”

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