Ambulance workers in Wales vote to strike over pay
Ambulance workers in Wales have voted to strike over pay, increasing the threat of widespread industrial action in the NHS before Christmas.
Welsh Ambulance Service workers have voted to take action alongside staff at eight trusts in England, totalling more than 10,000 workers.
The GMB union confirmed its members working as paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff are set to walk out in Wales, along with those in 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 and Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
The GMB said workers across the ambulance services and some NHS trusts have voted to strike over a 4% pay award, which it described as another “massive real-terms pay cut”.
The union will meet with reps in the coming days to discuss potential strike dates before Christmas.
Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said: “Ambulance workers – like other NHS workers – are on their knees.
“Demoralised and downtrodden, they’ve faced 12 years of Conservative cuts to the service and their pay packets, fought on the front line 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.”
Up to 100,000 nursing staff are also set to take part in their biggest ever strike next month in a long-running dispute over pay.
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Wales, England and Northern Ireland will take industrial action on December 15 and 20 after voting in favour in a ballot.
Nurses at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board are the only in Wales not to take strike action after a majority of union members failed to vote in a ballot.
Nurses and other nursing staff will also take action at half of the locations in England where the legal mandate was reached for strikes and throughout Northern Ireland.
A separate pay offer has been made in Scotland.
The number of NHS employers affected by action will increase in January unless negotiations are held, said the RCN.
The union has repeated calls on the UK government to accept its request for negotiations to resolve the dispute over pay and patient safety.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “Ministers have declined my offer of formal pay negotiations and instead chosen strike action.
“It has left us with no choice but to announce where our members will be going on strike in December.
“Nursing is standing up for the profession and their patients. We’ve had enough of being taken for granted and being unable to provide the care patients deserve.
“Ministers still have the power and the means to stop this by opening negotiations that address our dispute.”
The RCN said that despite this year’s pay award of £1,400, experienced nurses are worse off by 20% in real terms due to successive below-inflation awards since 2010.
The RCN is calling for a pay rise of 5% above RPI inflation, saying the economic argument for paying nursing staff fairly is clear when billions of pounds is being spent on agency staff to plug workforce gaps.
The RCN pointed out that in the last year, 25,000 nursing staff around the UK left the Nursing and Midwifery Council register.
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