Ambulance workers to stage two more strikes in January | UK News

Ambulance workers to stage two more strikes in January | UK News

Ambulance workers will stage two further strikes in January amid a dispute over pay and staffing.

The Unison union says the industrial action, involving staff employed by services in London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South West, will take place on 11 and 23 January.

It comes after 25,000 ambulance workers from Unison, Unite and the GMB unions walked out in coordinated strike action on 21 December – their biggest strike in 30 years.

Members of the GMB union at nine ambulance trusts are also preparing to strike on 28 December, while members in the Welsh Ambulance Service have voted to strike, with 1,000 workers set to take action on dates to be announced in the new year.

Wednesday’s ambulance worker strikes took place after last-ditch crisis talks between Health Secretary Steve Barclay and unions failed to address the issue of pay.

About 600 members of the army, navy and the RAF were drafted in from across the country to help during this week’s walkouts.

The majority of ambulance trusts in England declared critical incidents this week – meaning they were on their highest level of alert where they feared they could not provide usual critical services.

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Paramedic Paul Turner explains why he and others are taking industrial action and says that the government is ‘not listening’.

Ahead of Wednesday’s industrial action, the unions had called on the government to make an offer on pay and suggested an agreement could be reached.

Unite’s Onay Kasab, who attended the Tuesday meeting, warned afterwards that ambulance strikes would “escalate” unless the government agreed to negotiations.

“Our members are absolutely determined to win not just the pay battle but to win the battle to save the NHS,” he said.

Mr Barclay said: “Further pay increases would mean taking money away from frontline services at a time when we are tackling record waiting lists as a result of the pandemic.”

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Steve Barclay lists a number of factors putting pressure on the NHS and suggests that the trade unions have decided to strike at precisely this time.

On Thursday morning, the stalemate between unions and the government appeared to show no signs of abating, following two days of historic action from nurses and paramedics.

As well as ambulance staff, NHS members of the Royal College of Nursing went on strike 15 and 20 December calling for a rise of 5% above inflation – 19.2% – as they said they have had a real terms pay cut of 20% since 2010.

They are also calling for better working conditions as nursing vacancies are at a record high so staff are stretched and regularly working beyond their shifts without extra pay.

Ambulance workers take part in a strike, amid a dispute with the government over pay, outside NHS London Ambulance Service in London, Britain December 21, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Ambulance workers take part in a strike on December 21

In a tweet on Thursday, Mr Barclay said his door “is always open to talk to trade unions about concerns around working conditions”.

But he added: “We have an independent pay review body… and we will continue to defer to that process to ensure decisions balance the needs of staff and the wider economy.”

Read more:
Strikes every day before Christmas – which sectors are affected and why
How A&E and other NHS services will be impacted

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The pay review body (PRB) has recommended pay rises of around £1,400 – about 4% – for most NHS staff, but unions say this is not enough to keep up with soaring inflation.

The government says it can’t afford to make a new offer, but has not ruled out a new deal early next year.

Workers across several other industries are also set to strike in the build-up to Christmas.

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Author: Shirley