Rescue workers announce new strikes for February

FILE PHOTO: Military personnel and an ambulance worker walk between parked ambulances outside their Waterloo station, amid a strike by ambulance workers over a dispute with the government over pay, in London, Britain January 11, 2023. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Army personnel will be drafted throughout the industrial dispute (Image: Reuters)

Thousands of ambulance workers in England will go on strike on February 10th.

Union members in five different services will protest wage and staff conditions.

It is understood those suffering from “life-threatening conditions” will still be able to receive emergency assistance.

The strike involves ambulance workers in London, Yorkshire, the South West, North East and North West.

Strikes will now take place across the NHS every day next week except Wednesday.

Unison called on the government to stop “pretending that the strikes will just go away” and to act decisively to end the dispute by improving wages.

The union’s health chief, Sara Gorton, said: “Ministers must stop fobbing off the public with promises of a better NHS without lifting a finger to solve the staff shortage staring them in the face.

“Rishi Sunak wants the public to believe that the ministers are doing everything they can to resolve the dispute. You are not.

People protest outside the London Ambulance Service during the strikes on January 23 (Image: Reuters)
Workers leave amid a long-running dispute over pay (Image: PA)

“The government’s tactic appears to be to intervene, wait months for the salary review panel’s report and hope the dispute will be resolved. It will not. And in the meantime, staff will continue to quit and let patients down.

“There can be no health service without the staff who run it. Ministers must start appropriate talks to end the dispute and put in place the urgent retention plan needed to boost pay and staff across the NHS.

Sir Stephen Powis, the national medical director for NHS England, said of the recent strikes: “We have worked very closely with unions to ensure emergency services for life-threatening conditions are maintained.

“These include strokes and heart attacks.

“There are more clinicians in call centers to ensure the right response is given to the right incident.”

The NHS England website, last updated on January 23, says: “The NHS is already facing record demand for emergency and emergency services – October and November were the busiest on record for emergencies and the most serious ambulance calls.

“As a result of the industrial action, these services will come under increased pressure, so it is vital that people make appropriate use of the services available.

“Regardless of strike action, it’s really important that patients who need urgent medical attention continue to call in, especially in emergencies and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill, injured, or their life is in danger.”

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Vuk Valcic/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock (13747988l) Members of various unions and supporters held a rally outside Downing Street to protest the UK Government's new legislation aimed at curbing strikes and protests in the UK to restrict. Enough is enough anti-strike laws protest outside Downing St, London, England, UK - 30th January 2023

Protests outside Downing Street last night (Credit Image: Vuk Valcic/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock)

Teachers, train drivers, civil servants, university teachers, bus drivers and security guards from seven unions going out tomorrow – the biggest day of industrial action in more than a decade.

But the government’s new strike law could hamper the future of industrial action.

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill cleared the House of Commons in a Monday night session, with MPs voting 315 to 246, a majority of 69.

Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said Labor would repeal it if the party came to power.

She added: “It threatens to lay off key workers during a labor shortage and crisis, launches an open assault on workers’ fundamental freedoms and is doing absolutely nothing to resolve the crisis at hand.

“Let’s look at what’s really at stake: a government that is playing politics with the lives of key workers because it can’t stand negotiations, a government that is lashing out at working people instead of dealing with their 13 years of failure, and a government and prime minister dangerously overwhelmed and afraid of scrutiny.

“We in these benches will vote against this shoddy, unenforceable bill.”

A large group protested the law outside Downing Street last night, many carrying signs criticizing Rishi Sunak’s government.

Yesterday Business Secretary Grant Shapps claimed the law “simply proposes to protect people’s lives and protect their livelihoods”.

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Justin Scacco

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