Talk to unions, boost NHS pay and strikes won’t be necessary

Ministers still have time to stop disruption

Time might be running out before this week’s strike involving ambulance workers, but there’s a still chance of finding a resolution to the dispute and starting talks to improve NHS pay, says UNISON today (Monday).

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The government must stop using public safety fears as a smokescreen for its own inaction. There’d be no strikes at all if ministers would only talk to unions and improve NHS pay.

“It’s still not too late to get around the table and discuss a wage boost to benefit not just staff, but the NHS and its patients too.

“Although people will be anxious about what Wednesday means, emergency cover plans will be in place. These are drawn up by each ambulance employer, working with the unions. If the health secretary has any concerns, he should flag now so these can be dealt with locally.

“Better still, Steve Barclay should throw all his energy into preventing the strikes from going ahead this week and preventing any escalation of action in the new year.

“I’ve cleared my diary and would be happy to meet the secretary of state at any time to resolve the dispute no one wants.

“At some point, the government is going to have to get into talks to fix this. Ministers should do that now, avoid the strikes on Wednesday and what looks like inevitable escalation in the new year.”

Notes to editors:
-UNISON has concluded its discussions with ambulance employers on emergency cover to enable the services to provide the public with clear information ahead of Wednesday’s strike.
-UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

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