More than 10,000 ambulance workers in England and Wales to strike on two days in December

Politics

More than 10,000 ambulance workers across nine trusts in England and Wales will strike on 21 and 28 December, the GMB union has confirmed.

The GMB, Unison and Unite unions are coordinating industrial action in a row over pay.

Ambulance workers from the GMB union, including paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff, will strike on 21 and 28 December at the following trusts:

• South West Ambulance Service
• South East Coast Ambulance Service
• North West Ambulance Service
• South Central Ambulance Service
• North East Ambulance Service
• East Midlands Ambulance Service
• West Midlands Ambulance Service
• Welsh Ambulance Service
• Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Share your story about the NHS as it faces acute pressure this winter

Unite said more than 1,600 of its members at the West Midlands, North West and North East ambulance service trusts would also join the walkout on 21 December.

Ambulance workers who are members of Unison will join the strike at five services in England: London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South West.

More on Nhs

The strikes will go ahead after the Royal College of Nursing staged their second walkout, which was also over pay.

Last week, workers across the ambulance services and some NHS trusts voted to take industrial action over the government’s 4% pay award, which the GMB union has described as another “massive real-terms pay cut”.

‘Life and limb cover’

The union said its representatives will now meet with individual trusts to discuss requirements for “life and limb cover” on the two confirmed dates.

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Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said: “After twelve years of Conservative cuts to the service and their pay packets, NHS staff have had enough.

“The last thing they want to do is take strike action, but the government has left them with no choice.

“Steve Barclay needs to listen and engage with us about pay. If he can’t talk to us about this most basic workforce issue, what on earth is he health secretary for?

“The government could stop this strike in a heartbeat – but they need to wake up and start negotiating on pay.”

‘Stark warning’ to the government

Unite called the action a “stark warning” to the government, which it urged to stem the “crisis” engulfing the NHS.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Make no mistake, we are now in the fight of our lives for the very NHS itself. These strikes are a stark warning – our members are taking a stand to save our NHS from this government.

“Patients’ lives are already at risk but this government is sitting on the sidelines, dodging its responsibility to sort out the crisis that it has created.

“Ministers can’t keep hiding behind the pay review body. They know full well it does not address the desperate need to get huge numbers of NHS workers off the breadline.

“Fail to act now to avert these strikes and the blame will rest firmly at the government’s door.”

Unite said it would maintain essential emergency cover for patients.

It is also balloting 10,000 more NHS workers at 38 different employers across England and Wales. The results are expected later this month.

Unison ambulance crews to walkout

Unison said its strike, which involves paramedics, emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians and other 999 crew members, will run from midday until midnight on 21 December.

The ambulance workers will be joined by Unison nurses, porters, healthcare assistants, cleaners and other NHS workers at two Liverpool hospitals.

Unison will also re-ballot around 13,000 NHS staff working for 10 Trusts and ambulance services where turnout in the recent strike vote fell short of the threshold required by law.

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Unison’s head of health, Sara Gorton, said: “The government will only have itself to blame if there are strikes in the NHS before Christmas.

“Ambulance staff and their health colleagues don’t want to inconvenience anyone but ministers are refusing to do the one thing that could prevent disruption – that’s start genuine talks about pay.

“Wages are too low to stop health workers quitting the NHS. As more and more hand in their notice, there are fewer staff left to care for patients. The public knows that’s the reason behind lengthy waits at A&E, growing ambulances delays, postponed operations and cancelled clinics.

“Threatened NHS strikes in Scotland were called off because ministers there understand higher wages and improved staffing levels go hand in hand. Unfortunately, the penny’s yet to drop for the Westminster government.”

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