GMB union announces further ambulance strikes in bitter pay dispute

Ambulance workers are set to stage more strikes (Stock image)   (PA Wire)
Ambulance workers are set to stage more strikes (Stock image) (PA Wire)

Thousands of ambulance workers will stage fresh strikes in next month in a bitter dispute with the Government over pay and staffing.

The GMB announced on Wednesday more than 10,000 of its members, including paramedics, emergency care assistants and call handlers, will walk out on February 6 and 20.

Further strikes will be held on March 6 and 20, the union said.

The strikes will not affect London as only Unison members of the London Ambulance Service (LAS) have staged strike action so far this winter.

However, they will affect the 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 and Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said: “GMB’s ambulance workers are angry. In their own words ‘they are done’.

“Our message to the Government is clear – talk pay now. Ministers have made things worse by demonising the ambulance workers who provided life and limb cover on strike days – playing political games with their scaremongering.

“The only way to solve this dispute is a proper pay offer.But it seems the cold, dead hands of Number 10 and 11 Downing Street are stopping this from happening.

“In the face of Government inaction, we are left with no choice but industrial action.“

It comes as Unite are also set to announce further ambulance strikes in the bitter dispute over pay and staffing.

The union, which represents 100,000 NHS workers, said its ambulance Organising Professional Committee is meeting later on Wednesday to set new strike dates.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “The Government has gone from clapping NHS workers during the pandemic, to ignoring them, insulting them, and now threatening them with the sack if they fight for decent pay.

“Ministers are paying the price for this in the growing anger among NHS workers and, as a result, growing support for strike action.

“A responsible government would get around the table for real talks with the unions and get the current crisis sorted with a wage deal that matches workers’ expectations.

“Their continued failure to do so will only result in more and more strikes.”

Life and limb cover will be negotiated locally with NHS trusts to ensure an emergency response service that genuinely reflects patients’ needs.

Elsewhere, members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) began a walkout at 55 NHS trusts in England at 8am on Wednesday morning after negotiations with Health Secretary Steve Barclay broke down last week.

In London, strike action was underway at Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust, St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, Ms Cullen suggested that nurses would continue to strike until a pay settlement was reached.

"I would say to the Prime Minister this morning: If you want to continue to have strikes, then the voice of nursing will continue to speak up on behalf of their patients and that’s exactly what you will get."

The RCN has been calling for a pay rise at 5 per cent above inflation, though it has said it will accept a lower offer. Two further strikes will take place on February 6 and 7.

Inflation was running at 7.5 per cent when it submitted the figure to the independent pay review body in March.

But inflation has since soared, with RPI standing at 14.2 per cent in September.