Pharmacy staff have been “forced” into returning to work or face the possibility of being sacked as NHS Tayside has refused an extension on their strike action.
The staff could be fired as of today if they continue to strike as they have been on the picket line for 12 weeks.
Under UK law, staff can be made redundant if they continue to strike after 12 weeks. The industrial action involves around 40 workers from all over Tayside.
Unite requested that the strike be allowed to continue for a few more days to allow for some further negotiations to take place on Monday, but this was knocked back by the health board.
A pay dispute is the source of the industrial action.
Workers are on the health board’s second lower pay tier, earning between £17,949 and £20,015 a year, despite their job role changing significantly over the last decade, they claim.
Discussions between two panels have failed to come to an agreement.
The panels consist of members of the Scottish Terms of Conditions Committee (STAC), a partnership organisation which collectively negotiates terms and conditions issues for NHS Scotland staff.
Unite’s regional industrial officer, Shona Robertson, is worried the rejection is a sign the health board was not willing to budge on the pay of the 39 workers.
She said: “We asked them (NHS) for an extension as a good will gesture but they refused.
“There is a further meeting again this week. We just wanted some time to see what came of that.
“We asked for just a few more days, it’s not like we wanted to a further 12 weeks of strike action.
“The workers have been on strike since August and they’re frustrated and angry that they’re being forced back without a solution.
“If we are to strike further we will have to ballot our members again. It will be back to square one.”
A NHS Tayside spokeswoman said: “Unite has advised NHS Tayside that workers involved in the dispute will be returning to work today. NHS Tayside welcomes our staff back and has developed a positive process with Unite to support the return of colleagues.
“NHS Tayside has always sought to engage in positive discussions with Unite and senior officers of NHS Tayside and Unite are meeting today to continue their discussions on the way forward.
“The STAC grading panel is also meeting today as part of the independent process jointly agreed with NHS Tayside and Unite.
“In accordance with the expectations of the committee, NHS Tayside will accept and implement the outcome.”