COVENTRY, UK – December 21, 2022: Unite general secretary Sharon Graham (centre) joins ambulance workers on a picket line outside Coventry ambulance headquarters. On Friday, January 20, Unite announced further 10-day strikes as the dispute between the government and the ambulance escalated.
Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images
LONDON. On Friday, one of Britain’s largest unions announced another 10 days of strike action in the coming weeks as the standoff between the government and ambulance workers escalates.
More than 2,600 ambulance workers in Wales and the West Midlands, North West, North East and East Midlands of England are already set to leave on Monday as part of an ongoing dispute over wages and staffing.
Newly announced strikes will affect North West (February 6, 22 and March 20), North East (February 6, 20 and March 6, 20), East Midlands (February 6, 20 and March 6, 20), West Midlands (February 6, 17 and March 6, 20), Wales (February 6, 20 and March 6, 20) and Northern Ireland (January 26 and February 16, 17, 23 and 24).
Additional votes are currently being held in four other ambulance funds that could potentially join the dispute later next month, the union said.
“Instead of defending the National Health Service and negotiating to end the dispute, the government has shamefully chosen to demonize ambulance workers. Ministers deliberately mislead the public about protecting life and health and who is to blame for excessive deaths, ”the Unite General said. This was stated by Secretary Sharon Graham.
“Our members provide life and health in good faith on strike days, and it’s not unions that don’t provide a minimum level of service: this government’s disastrous treatment of the NHS has taken it to the limit.”
The union said its representatives will work regionally to ensure lifesaving supplies and limb cover are available during the strike, while patients in need of life-saving care continue to be brought to appointments.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government passed a controversial anti-strike law to “enforce a minimum level of service” in key public services, which unions have criticized as an attack on workers’ rights.
The legislation will force some employees to work during the strike. Government ministers have publicly accused ambulance workers of endangering lives by going on strike, prompting widespread backlash from unions and political opponents.
Unite’s lead national officer, Onay Kasab, said the decision was “in the hands of the government” and the dispute would only end when the UK leadership began “proper negotiations” over wages.
“The government’s constant attempts to get the ball rolling and its talk of one-off payments or marginal wage increases in the future is simply not enough to resolve this dispute,” Kasab said.
Members of the Royal College of Nursing and GMB ambulance workers are also on strike on 6 February. GMB has scheduled further promotions for February 20, March 6 and 20.