Over 2,600 ambulance workers in the West Midlands, North West, North East, East Midlands and Wales will take strike action on Monday 23 January in the increasingly bitter dispute over pay.

Escalation

The strike marks an escalation as more workers join the dispute, which saw an initial day of industrial action on December 21 last year.

Amid latest figures which reveal that ambulance handover rates in England have reached record levels, with one in four waiting for over an hour to discharge patients to A&E, Unite says that its’ ambulance workers are striking as a last resort. 

No option

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s ambulance workers have been left with no option but to take industrial action. They are fighting to protect patients, to save the ambulance service and the NHS itself, as well as providing for their families. 

 “The government has had months to intervene and end this dispute but has failed to do so. They choose to attack NHS workers rather than get more money for the NHS from profiteering companies. They repeatedly refuse to sit down and negotiate to resolve the dispute. 

“The talks the government has lined up for Monday yet again look like nothing more than a smoke screen and are clearly not a negotiation on NHS pay.

 But this is real and urgent. NHS staff need their bills paying now. Vital health workers are leaving the service now. Patients are suffering and dying now. The prime minister needs to step up to the moment and lead. That is what he is paid for.” 

Pay crisis

The pay crisis in the NHS is becoming so severe that an ever-growing number of NHS Trusts are running food banks, or undertaking other measures such as free breakfasts or providing soup, to help ensure the welfare of staff.

Open goals missed

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab said: “The government has repeatedly missed open goals to resolve this dispute. Unions have been invited to talk and then told they can’t talk about pay, in a pay dispute.

“The government must get its head out of the sand and finally enter into serious negotiations about pay in order to avert further industrial action. The general public must be as mystified, as are our ambulance workers, as to why the government is not moving heaven and earth to resolve this dispute.”

Life and limb cover

In line with the previous industrial action, Unite’s representatives will be working at a local level to agree derogations to ensure that emergency cover is in place during the strike.

The industrial action will be for 24 hours from 00:01 until 23.59 in Wales, North West, North East and East Midlands. The West Midlands strike will be for 12 hours from 06:00 to 18:00.

Action in Wales

Unite members employed by the Welsh ambulance service will also be taking an initial day of industrial action on Thursday 19 January.

Unite is currently re-balloting three ambulance trusts where members overwhelmingly voted for industrial action before Christmas, but didn’t quite meet the required thresholds, which are imposed by the government’s anti-strike legislation.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Over 1,600 ambulance workers to strike on 21 December

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.