NWAS paramedics strike over pay dispute

The North East Ambulance Service is reassuring the public over its response times.
The North East Ambulance Service is reassuring the public over its response times.

Paramedics in the North West have launched a third day of strike action today over a long-running pay dispute.

GMB, the union for ambulance staff, say union members will strike on Wednesday, July 4 as part of a long-running pay dispute.

Ambulance staff across the region – which covers Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester - will stage a six hour walk out at the beginning of each day shift.

Earlier industrial action saw staff stage a two hour walk on June 18 and six hour walk outs on Friday June 29.

Paul Turner, GMB Organiser, said: “GMB’s hard-working North West paramedics have simply had enough.

“We submitted a freedom of information request to NWAS, which made it clear the Trust that had sought advice from senior figures within NHS employers - a clear breach of national job evaluation guidelines (JEG).

“Our members now have no confidence in the JEG to enable a a fair and transparent evaluation.

“GMB is asking for an independent investigation to be undertaken into what has gone on during the past 13 years and the reason we are in this situation.

“Our members have been astoundingly patient in waiting for their job to be re-evaluated for the years between 2005 to 2016.

“We are not taking this action lightly and would have expected the employer to take it more seriously.

“After almost 13 years, our members are now saying enough is enough.”

The North West Ambulance Service confirmed that it had been informed that paramedics who are members of the GMB Union, will take action at the start of their shift, for six hours, if their shift starts between 6am and 12pm.

The trust says that the number of GMB paramedics that are rostered on shift during that time and are therefore eligible to take action is small and previous days of action have only seen few members withdraw their services, with none at all striking in Greater Manchester last week. Paramedics who are not members of GMB will be working as normal.

Michael Forrest, Interim Chief Executive for North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), said: “The trust is extremely disappointed with the actions proposed by GMB and believes it has worked closely with them to try and work through the issues which formed the basis of the ballot.

"Agreement has now been reached with our other partner trade unions UNISON and Unite on an agreed way forward and we have again asked GMB representatives to be part of the process going forward, However the GMB Leadership continue to refuse our requests to put our up-dated position back to its membership.

“As with previous days of action we will do all we can to minimise any impact on the public and it is fair to say that the action so far has had little impact on our ability to respond to patients. However, these strikes do have the potential to cause some delays, particularly to the less urgent calls so while we have robust plans to ensure as much cover as possible, we ask the public to help us by only calling 999 for an ambulance 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.”