New Year Two Day Strike Looms In Ambulance Service And 12 Hours Strike In Rest Of NHS In England And Northern Ireland In Pay Dispute
New Year will bring a regrettable escalation of the strike action as staff have been left with no alternative with no meaningful talks in prospect says GMB.
GMB members in the ambulance service in England and Northern Ireland are considering a 48 hour continuous strike in the New Year as part of an escalation of strike action with other health unions in the pay dispute in the NHS.
The two day stoppage by GMB members in the ambulance service, should it go ahead, will commence at 12 noon on January 29th and will continue until 12 noon on 31st January.
The joint health unions have announced further strike action for Thursday 29 January 2015. This will be a 12 hour stoppage from 9am -9pm in NHS (Hospitals). This will be followed in February with a 24 hour stoppage on Wednesday 25 February 2015, time to be confirmed. See below for text of joint statement from the health unions on 19th December 2014.
GMB will issue the necessary formal notices to all NHS employers including ambulance services in the coming weeks.
GMB members took part in the strike action in the NHS across England & Northern Ireland on 13th October and 24th November to demand that the Secretary of State for Health stops burying his head in Whitehall and meet with GMB and all health unions to resolve the dispute.
The four-hour stoppages were followed by action short of a strike with an overtime ban in the ambulance service and other NHS employees working to their contracted hours.
GMB conducted an official ballot of members in the NHS in England and Northern Ireland. There was overwhelming support for industrial action to secure a better offer. The pay offer for NHS staff in England and Northern Ireland is an unconsolidated 1% pay award in 2014, restricted to staff not eligible for incremental progression and the same approach in 2015. This goes against the recommendation of the independent NHS Pay Review Body for a 1% consolidated pay rise for all staff.
Rehana Azam, GMB NHS National Officer, said "The New Year will bring a regrettable escalation of the strike action in the NHS in this pay dispute. GMB has been left with no alternative as Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, continues to act irresponsibly by sticking to an entrenched position of no meaningful talks with the health unions.
This dispute is escalating. The consequences will mean a third wave of strikes across the NHS. GMB is consulting members on a two day strike on 29th & 30th January in the Ambulance Service.
Further stoppages across the NHS are inevitable should Jeremy Hunt continue to refuse to hold discussions to settle the pay dispute. This is a dispute he created when he dismissed an independent pay review body's recommendation for NHS staff pay."
Steve Rice GMB Ambulance Chair said "I have worked for the Ambulance Service for almost four decades and in this time I have worked under 17 Secretaries of State for Health. Never have I experienced staff morale at such a breaking point and that is why the GMB is calling an urgent GMB Ambulance meeting to discuss the details of a potential 2 day stoppage across the ambulance service. Escalation is always a last resort but in the absence of any real talks from government or employers we have nowhere else to go.
Our A&E's are in a crisis and we took the responsible position by not striking over Christmas. This goodwill will not continue in the New Year. GMB members expect the current Secretary of State for Health to engage in meaningful talks to settle this dispute.
NHS staff are the backbone of the NHS and whilst the pay recommendation by the independent pay review body didn't go far enough it cannot be just dismissed by the Secretary State for Health."
GMB and other NHS unions issued a joint statement on 19th December that sets out a programme where NHS strikes will be escalated in the New Year.
This is the text of the joint statement:
“Health Trade Unions in England have announced a new round of Industrial action in 2015. There will be strikes in the NHS on 29th January and 24th February 2015 and action short of strike action over a longer period. This action is being taken over the Westminster Government's decision not to implement the recommendation of the independent Pay Review Body for the NHS to give all staff 1% for 2014/15 and the fact that the government has stopped the PRB making any recommendation for 2015/16
The Trade unions decided not to take strike action over Christmas and New Year period as this could have a serious impact on patient safety.
Christina McAnea, Chair of the joint NHS Trade Unions, said" NHS workers, as ever, are putting the safety of patients first by not taking industrial action over the Christmas and New Year periods when staffing levels are already stretched because of their concerns over patient safety. But the Government and NHS employers are showing a total disregard for patient safety by refusing to enter into any meaningful negotiations to try and resolve this dispute. We have no option but to escalate the industrial action by taking longer strikes. NHS workers are being treated worse than any other part of the public sector - they have had their pay frozen or held down for 5 years and many face serious hardship especially at Christmas."
Individual Trade unions will be announcing details of their strike action on those dates.
Contact: Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer on 07841 181656 or GMB Regional Officers: Birmingham & West Midands Pauline Hinks on 07809 617 761, London & East of England Tony Hughes on 07738 958 142 or Steve Sweeney on 07703 469403, East Midlands, Les Dobbs on 07966 327 967, North East and Cumbria, Chris Jukes on 07870 176 733, North West, Lisa Ryan 07703 468 968 or Maria Almond 07718 113110, Northern Ireland, Michael Mulholland on 07974 018 413, South East, Nick Day on 07717 510 047, Wales & South West, Paul Gage on 07980 753 117 and Yorkshire, Joan Keane on 07958 156841 or GMB Press Office: 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.