Union representing ambulance workers discusses 48 hour strike

19 December 2014

From GMB

GMB48 Hour Continuous Strike Action Looms In Ambulance Service In England And Northern Ireland At End January 2015 In NHS Pay Dispute

Further stoppages across the NHS are inevitable should Jeremy Hunt continue to refuse to hold discussions to settle the pay dispute says GMB.

GMB members in the ambulance service in England and Northern Ireland are considering a 48 hour continuous strike as part of a programme with other health unions to escalate the strike action in the New Year in the pay dispute in the NHS. See below for text of joint statement from the health unions.

The two day stoppage in the ambulance service, should it go ahead, will commence at 12 noon on January 29th and will continue until 12 noon on 31st January.

GMB will issue the necessary formal notices to NHS employers in the coming weeks.

GMB members took part in the strike action in the NHS across England & Northern Ireland on 13th October and 24th November to demand that the Secretary of State for Health stops burying his head in Whitehall and meet with GMB and all health unions to resolve the dispute.

The four-hour stoppages were followed by action short of a strike with an overtime ban in the ambulance service and other NHS employees working to their contracted hours.

GMB conducted an official ballot of it’s NHS members in England and Northern Ireland. There was overwhelming support for industrial action against the government and employers’ pay policies. The pay offer for NHS staff in England is an unconsolidated 1% pay award in 2014, restricted to staff not eligible for incremental progression and the same approach in 2015. This goes against the recommendation of the independent NHS Pay Review Body for a 1% consolidated pay rise for all staff.

Rehana Azam, GMB NHS National Officer, said “It is regrettable that GMB has no alternative but to escalate the strike action in the NHS. The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, is acting irresponsibly with a continued entrenched position by not engaging in any meaningful talks with the health unions.

This dispute is escalating. The consequences could mean a third wave of strikes across the NHS and we will be consulting members on a two day strike on 29th & 30th January in the Ambulance Service.

Further stoppages across the NHS are inevitable should Jeremy Hunt continue to refuse to hold discussions to settle the pay dispute. This is a dispute he created when he dismissed an independent pay review body’s recommendation for NHS staff pay”.

Steve Rice GMB Ambulance Chair said “I have worked for the Ambulance Service for almost four decades and in this time I have worked under 17 Secretaries of State for Health. Never have I experienced staff morale at such a breaking point and that is why the GMB is calling an urgent GMB Ambulance meeting to discuss the details of a potential 2 day stoppage across the ambulance service. Escalation is always a last resort but in the absence of any real talks from government or employers we have nowhere else to go.

Our A&E’s are in a crisis and we have taken the responsible position by not striking over Christmas. This goodwill will not continue in the New Year. GMB members expect the current Secretary of State for Health to engage in meaningful talks to settle this dispute.

NHS staff are the backbone of the NHS and whilst the pay recommendation by the independent pay review body didn’t go far enough it cannot be just dismissed by the Secretary State for Health.”

GMB and other NHS unions issued a joint statement on 19th December that sets out a programme where NHS strikes will be escalated in the New Year.

This is the text of the joint statement:

“Health Trade Unions in England have announced a new round of Industrial action in 2015. There will be strikes in the NHS on 29th January and 24th February 2015 and action short of strike action over a longer period. This action is being taken over the Westminster Government’s decision not to implement the recommendation of the independent Pay Review Body for the NHS to give all staff 1% for 2014/15 and the fact that the government has stopped the PRB making any recommendation for 2015/16

The Trade unions have decided not to take strike action over Christmas and New Year period as this could have a serious impact on patient safety.

Christina McAnea, Chair of the joint NHS Trade Unions, said” NHS workers, as ever, are putting the safety of patients first by not taking industrial action over the Christmas and New Year periods when staffing levels are already stretched because of their concerns over patient safety. But the Government and NHS employers are showing a total disregard for patient safety by refusing to enter into any meaningful negotiations to try and resolve this dispute. We have no option but to escalate the industrial action by taking longer strikes. NHS workers are being treated worse than any other part of the public sector – they have had their pay frozen or held down for 5 years and many face serious hardship especially at Christmas.”

Individual Trade unions will be announcing details of their strike action on those dates.

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