One of the UK’s largest unions announces 10 more days of strike

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COVENTRY, UK – December 21, 2022: Union General Secretary Sharon Graham joins paramedics on the picket line outside Coventry Ambulance Headquarters. On Friday, January 20, Unite announced another 10 days of strikes as a dispute between the government and the ambulance escalated.

Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images

LONDON – One of the UK’s largest unions announced on Friday that fighting will continue for 10 days in the coming weeks as the standoff between the government and paramedics deepens.

More than 2,600 ambulance workers in Wales and the West Midlands, North West, North East and East Midlands of England will leave as early as Monday as part of an ongoing wage and staffing dispute.

The newly announced strikes will affect the North West (February 6, 22 and March 20), North East (February 6, 20 and March 6, 20), East Midlands (February 6, 20 and March 6, 20), West Midlands (February 6, 17 and March 6, 20), Wales (February 6, 20 and March 6, 20) and Northern Ireland (January 26 and February 16, 17, 23 and 24).

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Further votes are currently being held on four other ambulance trusts that could potentially join the dispute later next month, the union said.

“Rather than act to protect the NHS and negotiate an end to the dispute, the government has shamefully chosen to demonize ambulance workers. Ministers are deliberately misleading the public about coverage of life and limb and who is responsible for excessive deaths,” said Unite General. So said Minister Sharon Graham.

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“Our members provide life and limb protection on strike days and it’s not the unions that don’t provide minimum levels of service: it’s this government’s disastrous treatment of the NHS that has brought it to breaking point.”

The union said its representatives would work at a regional level to ensure that life and limb protection will be available during the strikes, while patients in need of life-saving treatment continue to be transported to appointments.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government has introduced controversial anti-strike legislation to “enforce minimum service levels” at key public services, in a move that has been criticized by trade unions as an attack on workers’ rights.

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The legislation would require some workers to work during a strike. Government ministers have publicly accused paramedics of endangering lives through union action, sparking a widespread backlash from trade unions and political opponents.

Unite National Lead Officer Onay Kasab said a resolution was “in the hands of the government” and the dispute would not end until British leaders begin “proper negotiations” over pay.

“The government’s continued efforts to quell the matter and its talk of one-time payments, or slightly higher rewards in the future, are simply not enough to resolve this dispute,” Kasab said.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing and paramedics, who are part of the GMB union, also went on strike on February 6. The GMB has planned further actions for February 20, March 6 and March 20.

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