Ambulance service re-recognises Unite the union

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Ambulance bosses have agreed to negotiate with a union representing paramedics after two years of bitter dispute.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust has re-recognised the Unite union to negotiate on behalf of its members.

Negotiations between the two sides effectively ended on February 9, 2013, when the ambulance service ceased to recognise the union.

A string of strikes were then staged by the union in the two-year standoff which came after Unite claimed patient safety was being put at risk by cost-cutting plans to allow semi-skilled care assistants to be sent out on 999 calls but trust bosses insisted safety would not be compromised.

In a joint statement, YAS and Unite said: “In acknowledgement of the fact that both parties have committed to building a constructive working relationship, an agreement has now been reached that will see Unite formally re-recognised by the Trust.

“Both parties will now work together on all relevant issues to safeguard the interests and safety of patients.

“Both YAS and Unite are now looking forward to forging a new relationship based on mutual respect and a commitment to the people of Yorkshire and Humberside.”

Terry Cunliffe, regional officer of Unite, said: “We have been in dispute about this for nearly two years and we are happy that they will now sit down with us and work with us.

“We will be working very hard with them to resolve issues and to make sure that patient safety is at the heart of everything we do.”

Complaints of staff members in the trade union can now be formally lodged with the trust.

The agreement follows the resignation of YAS chief executive David Whiting on November 17 last year.

The union has around 450 members within the service.