Ambulance workers take part in strike day

News update...
News update...

HUNDREDS of ambulance workers walked out yesterday (Tuesday) in a row over cost-cutting plans and the derecognition of their union.

Unite said around 450 of its members at Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) had backed the 24 hour strike, which ended at 6am today.

Picket lines were manned outside the Trust’s headquarters in Wakefield and 17 ambulance stations.

But YAS said the action had not affected its services.

Emergency operations locality director Paul Mudd said: “The strike action involved less than 10 per cent of the total staff employed by the trust and the vast majority of our staff have been working as normal.”

The union balloted members last month after YAS bosses decided they would no longer recognise Unite during negotiations.

It followed union claims that plans to save £46m over five years by bringing in semi-skilled care assistants to work alongside paramedics would put patients at risk.

Regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “We say that’s not sufficient to turn up to emergencies and provide life-saving patient care.”

He said its members had been left with no option but to take action.

“It’s not a political decision,” he said. “I’m not sure what alternative we have.

“Our members are left with no voice in the National Health Service. That’s unacceptable to us and we won’t be silenced.”

But Mr Mudd said: “The trust recognises the legal right to participate in industrial action. However, I do not believe that industrial action in this form is in the best interests of patients.”

YAS has insisted throughout the dispute that the proposed changes to its workforce are safe.

It said the changes would allow it to deliver a “high quality and responsive service”.

When members voted for strike action, they also voted for a continuous overtime ban which began on March 26.