Ambulance staff in the North East to be balloted over potential industrial action

The ambulance service is set to be balloted.
The ambulance service is set to be balloted.
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Ambulance staff are to be balloted over what action they're willing to take over pay and working condictions.

GMB, the union for ambulance staff, will undertake a consultative ballot of members working in the ambulance service between Friday, April 29 and Wednesday, May 25, 2016.

The consultative ballot will ask GMB members, including members of the North East Ambulance service, what action they are willing to take against unfulfilled promises from Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to improve pay and conditions for ambulance workers.

GMB is asking for fair pay, a safe and sensible retirement age, proper training and improved development and career progression for ambulance drivers.

Rehana Azam, GMB national officer for the NHS, said: "An overworked, underpaid and overstretched ambulance workforce cannot be expected to keep responding to 999 emergency calls, whilst their government sits back and does nothing. The government promised to recognise the valuable skill set of ambulance staff. They promised to invest in the ambulance staff and service. The government has failed to live up to their promises.

"GMB and other unions have been left with no alternative but to announce a consultative ballot of ambulance staff in England with the potential for an industrial action ballot in the near future. Professional ambulance staff cannot be expected to keep picking up the slack for government incompetence on promises to invest that they have failed to deliver.

"Back in 2015, in a desperate effort to conclude the pay dispute of 2014/15, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, agreed to a review of the banding system in place to recognise the skill set of ambulance staff. The government’s failure to follow through has not been received well by ambulance staff."

Ms Azam added: "GMB calls on the government to prioritise the delivery of the 2015 promises and set out a detailed plan for how they will deliver on them. Otherwise, an industrial action ballot timetable in the ambulance service will be unavoidable."