Drug and alcohol rehabilitation staff to strike this month

Staff employed by Addaction are to strike on Friday 23 August because their employer has failed to keep its promise to pay them NHS rates for the job.

The 31 staff are members of the union and provide a drug and alcohol rehabilitation service that is commissioned by Wigan Borough Council. They were employed directly by the NHS previously but their new employer is refusing to pay them the nationally agreed pay rise for NHS staff. This will cost employees as much as £1,000 per year over the course of the three-year pay deal.

The strike notice follows an overwhelming vote for industrial action, with all respondents voting strike and a turnout of well over 80%.  

Katherine Herbert, a drug and alcohol worker and UNISON rep, said: “We all work very hard to provide a good service. It is important work and it’s great when we make a difference for people and help them to turn their lives around. 

“We used to be employed directly by the NHS, but now that Addaction has taken over our pay is falling behind the NHS rates. We feel undervalued and it is getting harder for us just to pay the bills. 

“I never imagined that we would have to go on strike, but we are desperate now and determined that we should be paid the right rate.”

UNISON North West regional organiser Paddy Cleary said: “Addaction promised staff they would be paid the NHS rates, but they have gone back on their word. 

“Our members’ living standards have been hit and they are upset that they have been misled by Addaction. All the staff who are performing this valuable work should be paid the proper rate for the job.

“Addaction also turned down the opportunity to access funding made available by the Department of Health and Social Care, which was set aside specifically so non-NHS organisations such as Addaction could afford to implement the Agenda for Change pay deal.

“The employer was aware of its obligations to pay the public sector rate for the job when it took on the contract to deliver this public service. It has wilfully neglected its obligations and has left its staff out of pocket and out of patience.

“It’s not too late to avert a strike. Addaction needs to act now and honour the promise made to this group of staff.”  

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