Paramedics set for weekend strike over pay dispute
Ambulance staff are set to go ahead with a weekend walk-out over a pay dispute, despite last minute negotiations to avoid industrial action.
Paramedics will walk out for a fourth day on Saturday July 21, despite efforts by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to talk down members of GMB, the union which represents more than a quarter of NWAS paramedics.
Ambulance staff across the region – which covers Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester - will stage a 12 hour walk-out.
This is the fourth walkout by NWAS paramedics in recent weeks after a ballot of members saw more than 84 per cent of those who responded vote for strike action.
Mike Buoey, GMB Organiser, said: “Our members are desperate to get this situation resolved – they’ve been waiting a long time for their job to be re-evaluated for the years between 2005 to 2016.
“The last thing we want is ongoing industrial action, yet NWAS seem determined to let the situation continue.
“We’ve had just one meeting since the strikes started – most of the time we are forced to speak via email.
“We’ve asked a number of times to meet with the chair of the Trust, and we get ignored.
“This is not the way to solve a delicate dispute.
“After almost 13 years, our members are now saying enough is enough.”
The NWAS NHS Trust has been informed that the action will take the form of a full withdrawal of services by GMB paramedics for day shifts starting between 6am and 8am. The staff eligible to take part must have been GMB members and paramedics prior to August 2016.
Lisa Ward, Interim Director of Organisational Development for NWAS, said: “The trust is extremely disappointed with this fourth day of action and is frustrated with the reluctance of GMB to discuss any movement from their current position. This is despite the positive discussions which have enabled us to reach an agreement on this matter with our other partner trade unions UNISON and Unite, who represent the majority of our staff.
“We have now also received formal notification that this action will occur every weekend from 21 July until October.
“I am in no doubt that their actions will effect patients although we will be doing all we can to minimise any impact on the public. It is fair to say that the action so far has had little impact on our ability to respond to patients, however, this extended period of action is highly likely to cause some delays, particularly to the less urgent calls.
"We have robust plans to ensure as much cover as possible throughout the region but we urge the public to help us by only calling 999 for life-threatening or potentially life-threatening emergencies. For non-emergency health concerns, alternative care and advice can be found though local pharmacies, GP surgeries, walk-in centres or NHS111.”