Drug and alcohol support workers employed by London-based charity Addaction in Wigan and Leigh have intensified their strike action in a dispute over pay.
Thirty staff will begin five days of strike action on Monday 4 November in their fourth round of industrial action over what they say are Addaction’s broken pay promises.
The staff were previously employed by the NHS but the service, commissioned by Wigan Council, was transferred to the national charity, which has come under fire for its handling of the dispute.
Workers continued to receive pay rises in line with those of NHS employees and were given assurances by the organisation’s managers this would continue into the future.
But when the 1% pay cap in the NHS was removed from April 2018, Addaction refused to implement the promised wage rise. The decision, which will cost each support worker around £1,000 per year, was taken without any consultation or discussion with staff.
Whilst the dispute is rumbling on, Addaction have recently announced that top boss Mike Dixon is leaving the charity this month to become Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats.
Dixon, who has been Chief Executive of Addaction since May 2017 said: "It’s been a hard decision to leave Addaction. I have continually been inspired by the difference we make, the approach of our staff and volunteers, and the courage of the people we work with."
Commenting on his departure, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: "I spent last week with Addaction workers in Wigan who have almost been broken fighting for the pay and conditions they were promised. No charity can serve the most vulnerable by breaking its staff.
“Now their CEO is off to take a job with the Lib Dems. I’d like to know if the Lib Dems are interested in the committed, skilled workers who are the difference between life and death for some people struggling with addiction? If so, why have they taken this decision now, in the middle of this dispute when the CEO hasn’t even had the courtesy to meet with workers in Wigan and Leigh to resolve this issue.”
UNISON North West regional organiser Paddy Cleary said: “We wish Mike Dixon all the best in his new role and sincerely hope he treats Lib Dem party staff with more respect and honesty than the Addaction staff in Wigan and Leigh.
“Our experience of working with Mr Dixon has not been positive. He refused to meet with the workers in Wigan and Leigh, who saw pay promises broken by national Addaction decisionmakers, including Dixon.
“These workers give an invaluable service to the community, providing front line support at a time when their services are more in demand than ever. They are pillars of our community and deserve honesty and fair treatment.
“We hope to work with the next Chief Executive to find a swift conclusion to this dispute.”