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North West ambulance workers among 15,000 to begin voting on ‘biggest strike in 30 years’ today

GMB Union said its members were angry over the government's imposed 4% pay award.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 24th October 2022

More than 15,000 ambulance workers across the UK are set to vote on what would be “the biggest strike in 30 years” today.

Amid what can only be described as continuing unrest in many industries and sectors of the economy, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) workers are among tens of thousands of GMB Union members from 11 ambulance trusts in England and Wales who are being balloted on the possibility of large-scale strike action in the coming weeks.

It comes as NHS workers in other unions – including nurses, who are also currently being balloted – are too being asked if they want to take strike action over pay.

GMB Union said its members were angry over the government’s imposed 4% pay award, and that when it comes to taking strike action, ambulance workers “don’t do this lightly” – but they are “desperate”.

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The union described it as “another massive real terms pay cut”.

Speaking ahead of 15,000 ambulance workers setting out to vote, Rachel Harrison – acting national secretary at GMB – said: “Ambulance workers don’t do this lightly and this would be the biggest ambulance strike for 30 years – but more than 10 years of pay cuts, plus the cost-of-living crisis, means workers can’t make ends meet.

“They are desperate.

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North West ambulance workers among 15,000 to begin voting on ‘biggest strike in 30 years / Credit: NWAS

“This is much more about patient safety at least as much about pay [as] delays up to 26 hours and 135,000 vacancies across the NHS mean a third of GMB ambulance workers think a delay they’ve been involved with has led to a death.

“Ambulance workers have been telling the Government for years things are unsafe [but] no one is listening.

“What else can they do?”

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Ambulance workers are the latest in a line of NHS staff debating the possibility of striking over pay, and comes after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) asked 300,000 nurses earlier this month if they want to begin a campaign for industrial action for the first time in its 106-year history – with the union urging its members to vote in favour of striking, and the union’s general secretary calling this a “once-in-a-generation chance” to make real change.

It’s the first ever UK-wide ballot by the history of the nursing industry’s largest union.

Featured Image – NWAS