Around 750 paramedics and other North East Ambulance Service workers could strike against the Government’s offer of a 4 per cent pay rise – which the GMB union describes as ‘a further massive pay cut in terms real”.
NHS staff followed their Yorkshire counterparts in voting strongly in favor of a formal strike ballot – more than 90% of voters in an advisory poll backed the move. That could see walkouts before the end of the year.
The official dates for a strike vote will be announced in the coming days.
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Michael Hunt, an organizer at GMB, said: “Paramedics shouldn’t be worried about having to choose between eating or keeping warm this winter while providing a crucial public service in our communities. The Northern Ambulance Service -East is in disarray; it can only continue thanks to the good will of the overworked and devalued crews.
“But goodwill goes no further. GMB members have a clear message for government and management: ‘we are worth more, we deserve more, we are ready to take a stand and we want a strike vote. “.GMB Union will stand with our members and fight for the above inflation pay rise that our NHS workers deserve.”
Karen O’Brien, Director of People and Development at NEAS, said: “Although the NHS salary is set nationally and is therefore beyond our control, we recognize that this is a very difficult time for everyone right now, including our colleagues.
“We appreciate the contribution of all of our colleagues who, regardless of where they work within our organization, work incredibly hard every day to keep our patients safe. We understand their concerns about feeling overworked and believe that this feeling should start to fade after significant additional investment in our service, which is dedicated to recruiting more people to join our teams.
“If industrial action is taken, we will work with our union colleagues to keep essential services running.”
It comes as another union – UNISON – is set to vote for NHS members in the region, including at NEAS, over strike action at the end of October. The union’s regional secretary, Clare Williams, today said government ministers ‘should be ashamed’ that NHS staff have to resort to food banks.
She said: “It’s as if the UK is back in the Victorian era, when workers were so poor they couldn’t feed their families. Some healthcare workers are now so tired they cannot survive without the help of their employers. This is a shocking situation. Ministers should be ashamed to come to this.
“The government should raise health worker salaries above the cost of living. This would help keep the wolf out of the door and allow the NHS to retain experienced staff.”
She said Prime Minister Liz Truss’ ‘reckless gamble threatened the very future of the NHS’. She added: “Any funding cuts or salary freezes could see so many staff heading for the door that services are no longer able to function. It’s no wonder there is growing support for the strike by health workers.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We appreciate the hard work of NHS staff and are working hard to support them – including giving more than a million NHS workers a pay rise. of at least £1,400 this year.
“Industrial action is the business of unions, and we urge them to carefully consider the potential impacts on patients.”