AMBULANCE workers in Yorkshire walked out on strike yesterday afternoon for the fourth time in an escalating battle against cuts and changes in their conditions, which will put their patients at risk.
Yesterday’s strike action began at 3.00pm and lasted for five hours.
The ambulance workers had already taken 24 hours of strike action on 1st February, and four hours of strike action on 3rd February. their first strike took place last year.
Unite the union, which represents them, said that proposed longer shift patterns
could lead to staff working for up to 10 hours without a meal break.
Barrie Brown, Unite National Officer for Health, told News Line: ‘When changes were being proposed last year our members opposed it overwhelmingly.
‘We have had a clear mandate to oppose the changes which were being brought in by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
‘Our members mainly opposed the changes as they directly affected patient care.
‘They are creating risk for patients by having less skilled staff involved in the ambulance crews.
‘First of all, what we did was considered by the Trust to be “whistleblowing” and that led to strike action because the Trust actually de-recognised the union.
‘In the meantime they made further proposals which changed the ambulance workers shift patterns, affecting their meal breaks.
‘There is industrial action taking place and industrial action that has taken place over that issue.’
Cunliffe, regional officer with Unite, said: ‘The latest strikes over elongated shift patterns follow the latest refusal of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust to meet Unite to resolve the dispute.’
Unite has called for an independent inquiry by the Care Quality Commission into the escalating dispute.