Health

Ambulance staff in GMB vote for strike

Blue light ambulance Image copyright SECamb

Ambulance staff and other health workers in the GMB union have voted in favour of strike action in a dispute over pay.

In the ballot, 78% of members in England and Northern Ireland voted in favour of strike action.

They will join other staff, including nurses, midwives and porters, in a four-hour walkout on 13 October.

Ministers have given NHS staff a 1% increase, but not for those who get automatic progression-in-the-job rises.

These are designed to reward professional development and are given to about half of staff and are worth 3% a year on average.

But the decision by ministers went against the recommendation of the independent pay review board, which had called for an across-the-board rise.

'Anger and frustration'

Brian Strutton, the GMB national secretary for public services, said: "Nobody in the NHS wants to go on strike, but the anger and frustration of the workforce with the cavalier treatment by government and employers towards them has spilled over into industrial unrest.

"GMB and the other trade unions on the staff side hope this programme of action will get some movement in this deadlock and we will plan further periods of action through the autumn and winter if it does not."

The GMB balloted 22,000 members in total, covering a range of jobs from ambulance crews to district nurses and cleaners.

The walkout will start at 07:00 and last for four hours. It will be followed by a period of working to rule.

The unions say urgent and emergency services will not be affected. Instead, they will target non-urgent care such as hospital outpatient appointments, routine surgery, patient transport and community clinics.

A total of 10 health unions have balloted members. Results from the biggest two - Unison and Unite - have already been announced.

Both voted in favour of a strike, while Royal College of Midwives members are also taking action for the first time. All these unions balloted members in England only.

It is the first walkout over pay for 32 years.

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