NHS: Malcolm Harrison issues warning of strike action
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The NHS is set for yet more strikes, as ambulance staff have voted to hold their first walkout in thirty years. This evening, Unison – which represents hundreds of thousands of health workers, including ambulance staff as well as porters and cleaners – announced that 80,000 of its members had voted in favour of taking industrial action. Tomorrow, GMB, the largest union representing ambulance staff, is also expected to declare its members have voted for strike action, in what would be the first national ambulance strike for more than 30 years.
Walk-outs are likely to take place next month, as unions are obliged to give two weeks’ notice of industrial action.
But nurses’ strikes are already scheduled to take place in the leadup to Christmas, on December 15 and December 20.
Up to 100,000 nurses are set to join the walkouts, which are taking place across 76 sites.
As many as 200,00 health workers are currently thought to be backing industrial action.
Unison members, including 999 call handlers, ambulance technicians and paramedics, in the North East, North West, London, Yorkshire and the South West have backed strike action, the union said this evening.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The decision to take action and lose a day’s pay is always a tough call.
“It’s especially challenging for those whose jobs involve caring and saving lives.
“But thousands of ambulance staff and their NHS colleagues know delays won’t lessen, nor waiting times reduce, until the Government acts on wages.”
The strikes will impact five out of the ten ambulance trusts and three other NHS employers.
However, only 80,000 out of 350,000 members voted in favour of strike action.
The union fell short of the 50 percent support threshold needed to trigger strikes in many areas.
Under the 2016 Trade Union Act, strike ballots need to meet a threshold of 50 percent of members voting for strike action.
Over 80,000 health workers across England voted to go on strike, although in some NHS trusts the 50 percent threshold wasn’t reached.
However, Unison argued that ministers shouldn’t underestimate the level of anger and frustration amongst NHS workers.
Unison’s health committee is examining the results of the ballot and will then decide what happens next
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In Northern Ireland health workers belonging to Unison have already voted to walk out over pay and staffing.
In Scotland the union is recommending that members accept a pay deal from the Scottish government, which will see a £2,205 pay increase for the lowest paid staff.
However, in Wales the threshold was not met anywhere.
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