Unite set to announce further ambulance strikes

With government refusing to negotiate on this year’s pay, strikes could run until March

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Unite, the union representing 100,000 NHS workers, is set to announce further and broadening strike action among its ambulance members.

The union’s ambulance Organising Professional Committee (OPC) will meet later on Wednesday (January 18) to set new dates which could see strike action throughout February and March as the government continues to refuse to negotiate on fair pay for this current financial year. The further dates will then be put to members to confirm.  Confirmation would see more NHS workers join the pay dispute across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Unite ambulance members are already set to strike in Wales tomorrow (January 19) and on Monday (23 January).

Life and limb cover will be negotiated locally with NHS trusts to ensure an emergency response service that genuinely reflects patients’ needs.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “The government has gone from clapping NHS workers during the pandemic, to ignoring them, insulting them, and now threatening them with the sack if they fight for decent pay. Ministers are paying the price for this in the growing anger among NHS workers and, as a result, growing support for strike action.

“A responsible government would get around the table for real talks with the unions and get the current crisis sorted with a wage deal that matches workers’ expectations. Their continued failure to do so will only result in more and more strikes.”

Commenting on the ambulance strike in Wales which will take place tomorrow (January 19), Graham added, “Unite stands 100 percent behind our Welsh Ambulance members who are striking to save our NHS. These workers are on the NHS frontline every day, saving lives and doing everything they can to protect the public.

“Unfortunately the NHS staffing crisis is making their job increasingly difficult, they see first-hand how our NHS is collapsing. A decent consolidated pay increase is the only way to improve NHS recruitment and relieve the crippling pressure on our ambulance services. The recent proposal from Welsh Government of a one off payment simply does not cut it with our members.

“Although the roots of this dispute may lie in Westminster, the only way of stopping further strikes is for Welsh Government to put a cost of living salary increase on the table”.

Meanwhile, Unite Wales regional officer Richard Munn said, “Ambulance workers across Wales have had enough. They are not willing to sit back and see the vital lifesaving service that they provide continue to be driven into the ground.

“The stress on our members builds every day.  Another below inflation pay rise is the final straw.  Devaluing pay every year whilst the ambulance service staff are faced with more and more pressure has resulted in the current strike action.  This strike is overwhelmingly the will of our members and we need the Welsh and UK Governments to take this incredibly seriously.

“We accept that Welsh Government have a desire to resolve this dispute but their current proposals are clearly not enough to end this dispute.”

Over 1000 Unite members in the Welsh Ambulance Service will tomorrow (January 19) commence the first of their two 24-hour strikes taking place on the January 19 and 23. 

Ambulance workers will join 23 picket lines across Wales in their fight to prevent the Welsh NHS from collapse.

Unite members voted by a margin of 88 per cent to strike over the well below inflation pay offer which has escalated the staffing crisis engulfing the Welsh NHS.

Stay tuned on UniteLive tomorrow (January 19) for coverage of the ambulance strike in Wales.

By UniteLive team