Maintenance staff at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust are working to rule today after their pay was cut by £1,700.

Electricians, plumbers, technicians  and maintenance staff at Boston, Grantham and Lincoln hospitals are taking the action today (13 August) after their national recruitment and retention premium was cut by 50 per cent in April.

Union Unite claims this is worth about £1,700 a year for the 40 affected staff who face losing half of the remaining premium from April 2013.

Unite will meet with trust bosses today. However, the staff in question are expected to withdraw from the on-call rota and were due to work to rule from 6am.

A ballot for industrial action saw 31 vote in favour of strike action, with five against.

National recruitment and retention premiums are a mechanism within the NHS Agenda for Change pay framework for trusts to pay additional money to staff groups where local market factors make it hard to fill posts.

The national staff council, which includes unions, has agreed to remove the NRRP for maintenance staff in all NHS trusts as it was deemed no longer justifiable.

A majority of NHS trusts in the country are expected to remove the NRRP fully by 2013.

Unite regional officer David Roome said:  “A craft person’s maximum basic starting salary is £18,402, rising after seven years to £21,798. The RRP loss will mean many of these highly skilled members, most who have worked at these hospitals for many years, struggle to make ends meet.”

He said the trust had also imposed parking charges on all employees with a maximum charge of £18 a month. Maintenance staff will be likely to have to pay £10 a month based on their pay band.

Mr Roome added: “This trust wants to explore the possibility of seeking foundation status. One of the principles of that is having a good working partnership with its employees. This is not the approach ULHT is following.”

Director of facilities management at ULHT Mike Speakman said: “We are disappointed that Unite have chosen to take this action in response to a nationally agreed change.

“We have been working with them to seek an agreement at a local level and those negotiations continue. The trust has contingencies in place to help ensure all services continue to be delivered safely and efficiently.

“We do not expect any disruption to patient services.”