Ambulance workers set to strike before Christmas as almost 750 North East workers vote for action
Almost 750 ambulance workers have voted to strike across the North East as paramedics, call handlers and other staff backed a walkout over an ongoing pay dispute with the government, with around 10,000 set to strike across the UK.
Workers voted to strike over the Government’s imposed 4 per cent pay award, which they say is a real terms pay cut.
The GMB union will now meet with reps in the coming days to discuss potential strike dates before Christmas.
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Secretary, believes something must be done or the ambulance service faces collapse, She said:
“Ambulance workers – like other NHS workers – are on their knees.
“Demoralised and downtrodden, they’ve faced twelve years Conservative cuts to the service and their pay packets, fought on the frontline of a global pandemic and now face the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.
“No one in the NHS takes strike action lightly – today shows just how desperate they are.
“This is as much about unsafe staffing levels and patient safety as it is about pay. A third of GMB ambulance workers think delays they’ve been involved with have led to the death of a patient.
“Something has to change or the service as we know it will collapse.
“GMB calls on the Government to avoid a Winter of NHS strikes by negotiating a pay award that these workers deserve.”
Karen O’Brien, director of people and development at North East Ambulance Service, said: “Although NHS pay is a matter for the Government and the trade unions, we recognise this is a very difficult time for everyone, including our colleagues.
“Whilst we have no role in negotiating the terms at the heart of the dispute, we need to ensure plans are in place to keep critical services running while respecting the right of staff to take industrial action.
“There may be an impact on non-urgent work because of industrial action.
“We are working closely with our trade union representatives and the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) to ensure safe services remain.
“We recognise this can be a worrying time for our colleagues who work incredibly hard every day to keep our patients safe.
"We value the contribution of all of our staff, regardless of where they work within the organisation.
“Patient safety is always paramount and plans will be in place to ensure critical services keep running.”