Unite members at Welsh Ambulance Service to strike over pay and staffing

Welsh ambulance workers in Unite are to stage two strikes in the dispute over pay and staffing.

Members of the union at the Welsh Ambulance Service will walk out on January 19 and 23 for 24 hours, but will continue to provide cover for life-threatening incidents.

Unite, which represents more than 1,000 members in the service, said 88% voted to strike over a below-inflation pay offer from the Welsh Government.

General secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite will stand 100% behind our Welsh Ambulance members who are striking to save our NHS.

“They see first-hand every day how the NHS is collapsing. A decent pay increase is the only way to improve NHS recruitment and relieve the crippling pressure on ambulance services.

“The roots of this dispute may be in Westminster, but the Welsh Government needs to move to improve its pay offer if we are to avoid a prolonged dispute.

“This union stands ready for serious negotiations with governments in all nations, Wales included. We now urgently need action to address the NHS pay and staffing crisis.”

Wales regional officer Richard Munn added: “The anger that has led to this strike is about more than just pay. Staff are exhausted and stressed and the meagre pay increase was the final straw for most.

“We know that the Welsh Government has limited finances but Unite is imploring them to come to the table with an increased offer, as was the case in Scotland.

“Unite recognises that the crisis has arisen because of the Westminster Government’s deliberate failure to fund a decent NHS pay rise across the UK.

“While the UK Government seems oblivious to the anger and frustration of NHS workers, the Welsh Government has shown that it does understand the issues. But now it needs to act.”

The Welsh Conservatives blamed “25 years of crippling NHS mismanagement” in Wales by the Labour-run Welsh Government for the strikes.

The party’s shadow health minister, Russell George, said: “Only last month, Wales saw the slowest ambulance response times on record.

“Let me be clear, this is not the fault of our hard-working Welsh ambulance members – the blame lands firmly at the door of Labour ministers.

“This cost-of-pain crisis is a living nightmare for those left wondering if a life-saving ambulance will arrive or not, or whether they will be seen in A&E in a reasonable time.

“Labour need to get an urgent grip on the NHS and stop breaking all the wrong records.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “We understand and respect the strength of feeling among Unite members at the Wales Ambulance Service which have led to this strike action.

“Following the ballot result, we will work with the ambulance service and health boards on their contingency plans.

“The public should be assured that arrangements will be made with unions to ensure there will always be a safe level of staffing, with life-saving and life-maintaining care being provided during any industrial action.”

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