Ambulance service staff vote for strike action

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Yorkshire Ambulance Service workers have voted to take strike action in a row over patient safety and trade union recognition.

The Unite union has called a one-day strike on April 2 and its 450 members will start a continuous overtime ban from March 26.

A ballot for action was called after ambulance bosses decided to de-recognise Unite for negotiations on behalf of its members.

Unite claimed patient safety was being put at risk by plans which will see semi-skilled care assistants sent to 999 call-outs.

Unions said the salaries and skills of more than 300 emergency staff would be downgraded to help save £46m over five years.

Bosses at YAS insisted safety would not be compromised.

Unite’s Terry Cunliffe said the union had offered talks with ACAS to try and resolve the dispute.

He said: “I had that offer thrown back in my face and they have refused to meet with me.

“There may be further strike days called if we don’t resolve the dispute between ourselves, but we want to give them the opportunity to meet us to try and resolve our differences.

“We are waiting to see what happens now they know the depth of feeling of members of staff. It is in everyone’s interest, particularly the general public, for us to sit down and talk.”

Mr Cunliffe said 62 per cent of members voted for strike action and 83 per cent backed action short of a strike on a 49 per cent turnout in the ballot.

Stephen Moir, deputy chief executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “We would like to reassure members of the public that the changes we are introducing to our A&E workforce will enable us to continue to deliver a high quality and responsive service to patients and they will always remain our top priority.

“We would also like to provide assurance that the Trust has plans in place to avoid any disruption to patient care if Unite members decide to go ahead with the industrial action they have outlined today.”