Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff to strike today in dispute over shifts

Paramedics will take strike action today as a bitter dispute between a union and ambulance service bosses shows no sign of being resolved.

Friday, 7th March 2014, 8:42 am

Members of the Unite union at Yorkshire Ambulance Service will stage a five-hour walkout today from 3pm-8pm and another strike at the same time on Monday.

Unite, which represents 375 ambulance workers, claims its members will go 10 hours without a meal break and be forced to work 12-hour shifts by changes to working patterns introduced last month.

The latest strikes were called after the union was de-recognised a year ago by management for collective bargaining on behalf of its members after raising concerns that budget cuts could hit patient safety.

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Strikes were held in April and June last year and in February this year after the two sides could not reach an agreement.

Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “The latest strikes over elongated shift patterns are as a direct result of the intransigence of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust to meet Unite in a constructive frame of mind to resolve the dispute.”

Unison, which represents 4,000 members at the ambulance service, has also now rejected changes to working conditions at the organisation, saying its members have no confidence in chief executive David Whiting and his team.

Bosses at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said the met Unison on Monday and a further meeting would be held next week.

A spokeswoman said: “Monday’s meeting was encouraging and we continue to work together towards a positive outcome.”

The Trust confirmed it had been notified of industrial action by Unite.

The spokeswoman added: “Throughout the periods of industrial action we will be taking steps to maintain operational cover to sustain effective and safe services for patients calling upon us for emergency medical assistance.

“We will continue to make every effort to get to patients as quickly as possible, whilst maintaining high standards of patient care.”