By Yuri Prasad
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Unite union ambulance workers plan to strike alongside nurses

Workers at ambulance services in the South of England, West Midlands and Yorkshire are set for strikes next month
Issue 2852
Unite union Ambulance strikers out in force in Coventry

Ambulance strikers out in force in Coventry last December

More ambulance workers in the Unite union have announced they are planning to walk out at the beginning of May. Workers in the South of England and the West Midlands are set to strike on Tuesday 2 May.

Ambulance staff from Yorkshire Ambulance Trust have already said they will be on picket lines the day before. And Unite health workers at Guys and St Thomas’ hospitals in London, the Christie cancer service in Manchester and Birmingham and Lancashire hospitals plan to join the action.

That means Unite members will be out alongside nurses in the RCN union during their planned 48-hour strike, which starts on Sunday 30 April at 8pm.

RCN members were the first to reject the Tories’ pitiful pay offer—despite heavy pressure from their leaders to accept it. The government offered a 5 percent pay rise for 2023-24 and a one-off payment equivalent to an extra 6 percent to top up last year’s salary.

Unite leader Sharon Graham said, “Unite has been up front and honest that it did not believe that the pay offer was good enough for NHS workers. A lump sum payment and yet another real terms pay cut doesn’t meet the challenges faced by NHS workers.

“Where our members have indicated that they want to swiftly return to the picket line, Unite is ensuring they are able to do so.”

Unite and the RCN striking together will ramp up the pressure on the government to come up with a new deal. It will also put pressure on the leaders of other unions who managed to get backing for the Tories’ offer.

Delegates to Unison’s health conference met in Bournemouth this week—and the mood was far from jubilant. Many delegates were angry with the union and wanted to show solidarity with those still on the pay battlefield.

Union leaders were able to prevent critical emergency motions on pay from being discussed. But many delegates were quick to attack the leadership for backing such a poor deal. There was a widespread feeling that there would now be a rash of local disputes about staff retention premiums and pay banding.

Many nursing assistants are on band 2 of the NHS pay scale but regularly perform vital tasks that should put them in band 3. That would mean a significant pay rise for some of the lowest paid workers in the health service. There have already been significant struggles over this issue, and it was clear at the conference that many more are to come.

Other unions are set to announce the result of their ballots on the pay offer next week. The RCN will shortly start its England-wide ballot for strikes at every hospital. And the junior doctors are expected to announce new strike dates shortly.

That means the pay fight in the NHS is far from over. Activists in all unions must look for chances to take action and show solidarity with others in their hospitals and workplaces. And everyone should get the health service picket lines from 8pm on Sunday 30 April.

Unite strike dates

Monday 1 May

  • Health workers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Trust

Tuesday 2 May

  • South Central Ambulance Trust
  • South East Coast Ambulance Trust
  • West Midlands Ambulance Trust
  • The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and Pathology Partnership
  • East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • West Birmingham NHS Trust

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