'Overworked and underpaid' staff at North West Ambulance Service to ballot on strike action

Ambulance workers in Wigan and across the North West could decide to walk out as a ballot for strike action opens today.
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More than 650 employees from North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), including paramedics and emergency call handlers, will be able to have their say in the ballot organised by trade union Unite.

It surrounds the NHS Agenda for Change pay award of around four per cent which was imposed last month.

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Unite says this fell short of the RPI rate of inflation, which stands at 12.6 per cent, and saw most staff receive an extra £100 per month.

The ballot for ambulance workers opens todayThe ballot for ambulance workers opens today
The ballot for ambulance workers opens today
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The ballot for strike action opens today and ends on November 30.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Over more than a decade, NHS workers’ wages have been eroded, even as workloads became increasingly unmanageable. Now with soaring living costs, the situation is critical.

“The impact of this real-terms pay cut will result in the flood of overworked and underpaid workers leaving the NHS becoming a tsunami. The government must put forward a proper pay rise or else the NHS will go from being on its knees to being on life support.”

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In a recent consultative ballot over pay, Unite members employed by NWAS voted by 92 per cent to strike. Nearly all – 98 per cent – said the pay award announced by the government in July was unfair.

Unite regional officer Gary Owen said: “The anger amongst our North West Ambulance Service members at rapidly diminishing living standards, increasingly threadbare services and ever more unsustainable workloads, is such that we are balloting for strike action.

“The government must put forward a better pay deal and one that does not come out of existing, soon to be horrifically squeezed, budgets.”

Wigan Today has contacted NWAS for a response.

Earlier this month, the GMB union announced it was launching a formal industrial action ballot for nearly 2,000 NWAS staff following the pay award.

At the time, a spokesman for NWAS said it was a “national pay dispute and not one we can control” and there were “plans to minimise any impact on patients”.