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Industrial action- additional FAQs

What are staff striking for?
Healthcare assistant staff at University Hospital Plymouth Trust are striking for re-banding for all Band 2 staff (including Bank) who do at least one clinical duty to the top
of Band 3 (where 2 years of service has been completed) and for meaningful back pay.
This is what has been won in other Trusts across the country and is a reasonable request given that most staff regularly undertake multiple clinical duties and many have
done so for decades.
Strike action is a last resort taken after many months of campaigning, during which hundreds of healthcare assistants have urged the Trust to listen. A situation where the
Trust takes advantage of their staff’s goodwill, whilst these staff miss out on thousands of pounds every year, is immoral and unsustainable – for our patients, our staff, and our
community.

Who can take part in the strike?
Any substantive Band 2 or recently uplifted to band 3 Healthcare Assistants, Healthcare Support Worker, Healthcare Assistant  Apprentices, Theatre Assistants, Medical imaging Care
Assistants, Maternity Care Assistants, Maternity Support Workers, Medical Support Workers, Clinical Support Workers, Clinical Imaging Assistants, and Research Healthcare Assistants
NHS National Role Profile can take part in the strike.

Can I strike if I am not a UNISON member?
Our strong recommendation is that if you are not in a union, you should join UNISON so that you have the protection of a trade union before you take part in industrial action.
This is the safest way to participate in the strike. You can quickly and easily join online now it is not too late: https://join.unison.org.uk/ You cannot strike with UNISON
members if you are a member of a different trade union. You can join as many unions as you wish. You can still join UNISON now and strike with your
colleagues.

Is striking a breach of contract – will I get in trouble for going on strike?
Although striking is technically a breach of contract, it is a legal breach of contract and it would be illegal for University Hospital Plymouth Trust to take disciplinary action against
you as a result for a 12-week period after any action. If they were to act against you after this period, it is still likely to be classed as unlawful Trade Union Discrimination, and UNISON can provide legal support in these cases.

Should I tell my line manager in advance that I support striking?
The point of the strike is to show the Trust how vital you are, so helping them prepare cover for the strike could reduce its impact. You have no obligation to inform anyone in
advance that you will not be working on strike days. If you feel comfortable doing so, it is recommended that you do not inform your managers. However, the most important
thing is that you do not work on strike days.
You are also under no obligation to inform your manager of whether you are a UNISON member. GDPR laws mean that employers cannot collect information about a
worker’s trade union affiliation without your specific consent.

Will I get paid for the days I am on strike?
A strike day is classed as an unauthorised absence and therefore you will not be paid by University Hospital Plymouth Trust. However, all UNISON members will be able to
claim up to £50 per working day in strike pay from UNISON. Strike pay cannot exceed normal take-home pay. We will also confirm how we can supplement the strike pay to
ensure that no one suffers hardship because of taking strike action.
Strike pay will be available to any UNISON member who can provide evidence that they have had a deduction to their salary due to taking part in strike action (i.e., wage slip
showing deduction). The Trust will be agreeing to an approach for deduction of pay for those on strike, and it is their responsibility to communicate this to you.

What if I am on sick leave?
If you are on long term sick leave or maternity leave and you would not be in work during the strike dates, then the Trust will not consider you part of the strike. If someone
is off sick during a strike, the employer must pay them their usual sick pay. An employee’s leave and pay must not be affected by strikes if they are on maternity leave,
paternity leave, adoption leave, parental leave/shared parental leave.

I already have Annual Leave booked for those dates – should I cancel my leave?
Taking annual leave on strike days is regarded as not participating in the action. If you have booked leave there is no expectation of you cancelling it, the main thing is that you
do not work on those days. However, some members will be choosing to cancel their leave and ensure it is registered as a strike day instead (or to come and join the picket
lines).

What if I am retiring within the next 12 months?

With most pension schemes, the absence of a one-day strike will not count towards pensionable service. The pay lost will reduce the average pay used in any calculation of
benefits. It may be possible to buy back the lost service, but in many instances the amount lost will be so small it is not worthwhile.
It is usually in the last year of service that pensions are most affected, and for this reason UNISON normally exempts such members from taking strike action. If you are
retiring in the next 12 months, then it is up to you whether to participate in the strike.

I’m on probation. Will striking affect my employment?
You are still protected by the law even while on probation. Legal strike action should not be considered when reviewing your probation, and you are still protected from dismissal
or discrimination like any other staff member.

I am on a work Visa, will striking affect my status?
You are legally entitled to take strike action as a worker employed in this country and you are protected from discrimination just like any other staff.
Under current immigration guidance, unpaid leave taken to participate in legal strike action is exempt from the rule that your sponsorship will be terminated if you are absent
from work unpaid for 28 days or longer in a calendar year. This guidance also states that you will not be penalised in applications for ILR if you are absent from work due to
legal strike action. If you feel that participating in strike action has affected your work visa in any way, please seek legal advice from UNISON.

Can Bank staff join the strike?
Bank staff are unable to take strike action due to the nature of your contracts. However, it has been made clear to the Trust throughout the campaign that any re-banding
process must include bank staff and that you should not be treated any differently to your substantive colleagues.

I want to strike but I am worried about patient safety.
The best thing for patient safety in the long term is to put patients first by tackling understaffing and underpayment of support workers by joining the strike. UNISON will
work with the Trust to ensure there is no threat to life and limb. The Trust will seek to cover striking staff, so while patients and colleagues will be affected by your absence, it
is highly unlikely to result in any emergency situations.

Can my manager put me on extra shifts after the strike days?
No. Your work pattern should remain as normal. If you are asked to work extra to make up for strike days this should be reported to a UNISON rep.