Paramedics covering Wigan are set to strike again this weekend as disputes over pay intensify.
North West Ambulance Service staff who are members of the GMB union, will stage yet another 26 hour strike this weekend over a long-running pay dispute, the union has announced.
Ambulance staff across the region – which covers Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester - will walk out for 26 hours from 6am on Saturday to 8am on Sunday.
NWAS paramedics have already staged six strikes in recent weeks after a ballot of members saw more than 84% of those who responded vote for strike action.
GMB, which represents more than a quarter of NWAS paramedics, understands more than 130 calls were awaiting a resource with none to send following industrial action last Saturday.
It is believed ambulances from Lancashire and Manchester being drafted into the Cheshire and Mersey areas.
The union criticised the service after a planned in-person crunch meeting with the NWAS last week did not take place, leaving the long-running dispute unresolved.
A subsequent conference call resulted in NWAS Chair Wyn Dignan expressing concern members were losing money because of the strike - saying this money should really be spent on our kids 'to buy them ice creams in the summer holidays'.
GMB has pledged to continue the strikes until they are assured NWAS has a genuine commitment to find a resolution to the long-running pay dispute.
Paramedics working for North West Ambulance Service have waited patiently for the outcome of job re-evaluation going back more than 13 years.
Mike Buoey, GMB Organiser, said: “I don't think NWAS senior management team recognise the seriousness of this dispute or their actions as demand on the service intensifies this weekend.
"Instead of sitting down with us to resolve this, they just patronised us and saw it fit to treat us like children. We don't want ice cream, we want fairness for our members."
“NWAS leadership will need to be held accountable for their actions in failing to settle an outstanding 13 year-long job evaluation issue.
“In prolonging such industrial action and by their ignorance, they are potentially placing the public of the North West at great risk and harm by not looking to resolve this paramedic dispute.
NWAS said it was continuing to work hand to try to find a resolution to the ongoing industrial dispute with the paramedic members of the GMB.
A spokesman said: "As with previous days of actions, the number of eligible staff is only a small proportion of frontline staff and the trust has only seen few members withdraw their services. They continue to work hard to minimise the impact and indeed services have been unaffected across Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Lancashire.
"Paramedics who are not members of GMB and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) will be working as normal.
"However, due to the period of time over which action is being taken, this action is likely to mean delays in reaching some patients."
Lisa Ward, Interim Director of Organisational Development at NWAS, said: “NWAS met recently with GMB to explore opportunities to resolve the dispute because we understand the impact of ongoing action on our patients and communities.
"We also recognise the impact on our paramedic staff and their families, who are being financially impacted by the strike action planned by the GMB. It is therefore disappointing to have the content of that recent meeting misrepresented.
“The trust has made a number of concessions to try to resolve issues underlying this dispute and has reached agreement with the other Trade Unions involved.
"The trust has made a further proposal to GMB following the recent meeting and it is increasingly frustrating that despite several movements on the part of the trust, GMB do not appear to be willing to alter their current position with the aim of bringing this action to an end.”