It was a real pleasure to speak at UNISON’s Ambulance Seminar in Warwick on Friday. The opportunity to speak to those who work in one of our vital emergency services was one that I couldn’t miss.
That’s especially true following the sad death of our President Eric Roberts last year. I know not just from decades of working with ambulance workers – but also from my friendship with Eric – what a special breed ambulance workers are. When we are busy running away from danger, they are the sirens that head towards the unknown.
Their bravery and dedication must never be forgotten, and should be celebrated at every opportunity.
Fortunately there have been some notable successes in the ambulance sector in the past year – for which UNISON members have fought and won. There was the national deal on Paramedic pay banding, which will provide a boost to many ambulance workers. And there was the extra holiday pay for all ambulance staff, another important victory and another example of how we can fight and win together.
It was good too to catch up with some of the great branches that represent ambulance workers – including East of England and the (still relatively) new Wales Ambulance branch. I had the honour of launching the new combined Wales ambulance branch last year and have been impressed with their work, solidifying our position as the leading ambulance union in Wales.
Branches like these show how right we are to be proud of our union, and what UNISON activists are capable of, even in these difficult times.
And they renew our will to fight for our health service – and all public services – in the run up to the election next month.