By an ambulance worker
Pay disputes are continuing in ambulance services across the country. Lincolnshire have embarked on an overtime ban and strikes are expected in Leeds and other parts of West Yorkshire. In other areas ballots are on going.
Unfortunately Unison's national ambulance conference failed to organise any meaningful campaign. The leadership of the sector remain determined to push a partnership agenda and the event was planned specifically to avoid discussion or co-ordination across branches. David Lammy, the government health minister responsible for the ambulance sector, spoke giving a clear warning that privatisation is firmly on the agenda for all patient transport services. Between official sessions union reps discussed pay, failures in service provision and the FBU dispute.
There is a clear feeling that the national union needs to act for us to have any real effect on these pressing issues. Unfortunately this opposition remains unco-ordinated.
A ballot of more than 900 Unison members in Scotland showed 90% supported industrial action short of striking. It comes just two days after a similar vote by the Transport and General Workers' Union. Both unions are operating an overtime ban until talks with management are forthcoming. Paramedics and control staff are demanding a 5% pay rise and changes to working conditions. The union is demanding early retirement at 55, an increase in on-call payments, a reduction in the working week, unsocial hours payments and enhanced payments for overtime, weekend and shift working. So far the Scottish Ambulance Service has offered 3.6% and a reduced working week.