Ambulance service too vital to play games with

Ambulance workers in England today got the full backing of the TUC Congress, to fight cuts to their sick pay being imposed by ambulance trusts across the country. An emergency motion seconded by UNISON, the largest union for ambulance staff, called for support for their campaign to get the employers back round the negotiating table and resolve the dispute, before it leads to industrial action.

Christina McAnea, UNISON head of health, said:

“Ambulance staff do a difficult, stressful, often dangerous job and face a daily risk of injury, illness and violence at work. It is wrong for the employers to forge ahead with these proposals.

“We hear day after day about the pressure that paramedics and ambulance workers face coupled with the rising number of 999 calls year on year. Ambulance workers do not take industrial action lightly, they know that lives depend on their care and expertise. But feelings are running high and it is high time that the employers recognised that the ambulance service is too vital play games with. We are calling on the employers to continue negotiations and find a way to resolve this.”

The NHS told unions on 29 August they were imposing changes to ambulance workers sick pay on 1 September. The cuts would lead to some workers losing up to 25% of their pay when sick. Around 20,000 UNISON members in the ambulance service could be affected by the proposals. 94% of those consulted voted against acceptance.

Ambulance staff are a distinct group within the NHS – they are different and are treated differently in the national agreement. This is underlined by the fact that unions have had additional negotiations and a separate consultation.