NHS New Year’s Strike!

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Nurses demonstrating on the last TUC march on October 18th
Nurses demonstrating on the last TUC march on October 18th

AMBULANCE workers are to strike for 48 hours on January 29th 2015, across the whole of England and northern Ireland as their pay dispute escalates.

Health workers will be joining the action for 12 hours from the same date.

GMB, the union which represents ambulance workers said: ‘Further stoppages across the NHS are inevitable should Jeremy Hunt continue to refuse to hold discussions to settle the pay dispute.’

The two-day stoppage in the ambulance service will commence at 12 noon on January 29th and will continue until 12 noon on 31st January.

The pay offer for NHS staff in England is an unconsolidated 1% pay award in 2014, restricted to staff not eligible for incremental progression and the same approach in 2015.

GMB said: ‘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: ‘It is regrettable that GMB has no alternative but to escalate the strike action in the NHS.

‘The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, is acting irresponsibly with a continued entrenched position by not engaging in any meaningful talks with the health unions.’

GMB, Unison and other NHS unions issued a joint statement yesterday that sets out a programme where strikes by all NHS workers will be escalated in the New Year.

The statement reads: ‘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 have 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 five years and many face serious hardship especially at Christmas.

‘NHS staff have been singled out by this coalition government for the worst treatment across the public sector.

‘Other groups will get their recommended pay increases – for MPs this is 11%!!!’