Sunday, 5 Feb 2023

Ambulance workers on strike TODAY as unions slam Government

NHS ambulance strikes discussed by GMB union official

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Ambulance workers will participate in another round of strikes today as pay disputes with the Government intensify. Approximately 15,000 workers with the Unison union will walk out as they seek a pay rise today. Paramedics, ambulance technicians, emergency care assistants, control room staffers and other emergency crews braved freezing -5C temperatures across the country to line picket lines this morning.

Striking workers hailed from five services in England, including London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South West.

They seek better pay, with union bosses eager to see workers covered as the cost-of-living crisis worsens.

But they have criticised the Government’s approach to negotiations, criticising ministers’ lack of flexibility.

Christina McAnea, the Unison general secretary, told the Press Association news agency that “most ministers” appear as if “they’d rather dig in and do nothing instead of boost pay”.

The union is seeking a better deal for the 2022/2023 pay award, with progress hailed by Health Secretary Steven Barclay for 2023/2024.

January 23 marks the third time in five weeks that ambulance workers have walked out, with further dates to come in February.

Today’s walkouts are compounded by concurrent action from NHS hospital trusts.

Approximately 5,000 workers from two hospital trusts in Liverpool have joined their ambulance colleagues.

Liverpool University Hospitals Trust nurses, midwives, porters, cleaners, healthcare assistants and others are on strike today.

Backed by the Unite union, they too are seeking better pay, with general secretary Sharon Graham advocating for a double-digit pay rise.

Ms Graham wants a 10 percent increase for her staff and has slammed the Government’s approach to negotiations.

Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, she highlighted “incompetence” in the Government ranks and accused ministers of “looking at this as the moment they can privatise the NHS”.

Ms McAnea was similarly critical and accused Chancellor Jeremy Hunt of blocking negotiation progress.

She praised the former health secretary for his part in negotiating the wage deal that ended the 2015 strikes and pushing for fair pay as health committee chief.

But, she said, he has “chosen to forget all that” during the latest talks with unions.

The Government has signalled its disappointment in workers for striking, adding emergency services face “disruption” despite contingencies.

Speaking to PA, Health Secretary Steve Barclay hailed “constructive” talks with unions about pay for 2023/2024 and said he was “keen to continue talking about what is affordable and fair”.

Without a resolution, ambulance and other NHS staff will choose to strike again in the coming months.

Union bosses have set dates for walkouts covering from January 4 to March 20.

They include:

  • Tuesday, January 24: GMB North West ambulance service workers
  • Monday, February 6: Royal College of Nursing (RCN) workers
  • Monday, February 6: GMB and Unite ambulance workers
  • Tuesday, February 7: RCN workers
  • Thursday, February 9: Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) workers
  • Friday, February 17: Unite West Midlands ambulance service workers
  • Monday, February 20: GMB and Unite ambulance workers
  • Wednesday, February 22: Unite North West ambulance service workers
  • Monday, March 6: GMB and Unite ambulance workers
  • Monday, March 20: GMB and Unite ambulance workers

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