Hundreds of underpaid hospital staff in West Yorkshire confirmed today they were taking strike action next week in protest against wage cuts.
The strike is the third by clerical and administrative staff at Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which has to find £24 million in savings due to government cuts.
The trust runs three hospitals - Dewsbury District Hospital, Pontefract General Infirmary and Pinderfields in Wakefield, which has a specialist burns unit. The dispute began in May last year when management announced plans to "down-band" the staff, dropping them a pay grade.
Public-service union Unison, representing the workers, said the decision would cost staff up to £2,800 a year.
The trust attempted to soften the blow by guaranteeing three years' "pay protection" before imposing the cuts.
Management also said it intended to declare 70 compulsory redundancies.
Unison declared opposition to the proposals and protracted negotiations took place.
There was no progress and the dispute came to a head in November when staff staged a one-day strike on November 1 and a further three-day stoppage on November 20, 21 and 22.
Management withdrew the compulsory redundancy proposal and said it would seek volunteers.
Unison official Jim Bell, who is involved in the dispute, said: "We have already had a measure of success from the industrial action because we have been able to prevent compulsory redundancies."
But management also reduced the period of "pay protection" it had proposed to two years.
Mr Bell said: "We consulted with members two weeks ago. We had four mass meetings in Wakefield, Dewsbury, Pontefract and Castleford.
"The result of that was a unanimous rejection of the proposal. We gave notice of the intention to proceed with a five-day strike."
Pickets will be in action at the three hospitals on Monday morning. Conciliation service Acas and Unison met today to negotiate a solution.
Pontefract, Castleford and Wakefield were once at the heart of Yorkshire's thriving coalmining industry but now only one pit remains.
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