Thousands of ambulance workers across Britain commenced strike action today (23 January) over a dispute over pay.
More than 2,600 members of trade union Unite in the West Midlands, North West and North East of England will walk out, while a further 1,000 will strike in Wales. The ambulance staff, including those in vehicles, call centres and control rooms, voted by up to 92% for strike action, with 88% of Welsh staff voting yes.
Members of fellow trade union Unison also started striking today in London, Yorkshire, the South West, the North West and the North East, while 1,000 GMB members started 24 hour action in the West Midlands. The start times and lengths of the strikes vary between locations, but most will last for 12 hours.
Workers based in England were offered a 4% pay increase for 2022-23, but Unite stated in December that it would not accept this, as it was lower than the 10.5% inflation rate at the time. According to the other unions, they met with the Health Minister and officials last week. While no specific offer for NHS Wales staff was made, a non-consolidated one-off payment was discussed.
An initial day of industrial action took place on 21 December 2022, with another planned strike day on 28 December being suspended.
Sharon Graham, general secretary at Unite, said: “Unite’s ambulance workers have been left with no option but to take industrial action. They are fighting to protect patients, to save the ambulance service and the NHS itself, as well as providing for their families. This is real and urgent. NHS staff need their bills paying now. Vital health workers are leaving the service now. Patients are suffering and dying now.”
Christina McAnea, general secretary at Unison, added: “Without a well-paid, valued and supported workforce, the NHS cannot deliver the quality of care that patients need. Our members’ livelihoods, and the future of our NHS, are always worth fighting for.”
Rachel Harrison, national secretary at GMB, said: “GMB’s ambulance workers are angry. The only way to solve this dispute is a proper pay offer. In the face of government inaction, we are left with no choice but industrial action. GMB ambulance workers are determined, they’re not going to back down.”