An NHS strike in December. GMB says its ambulance members will stage 4 more strikes © Getty Images
Ambulance strikes could continue into Easter if the UK government doesn’t agree to this year’s NHS pay deal, unions said on Wednesday as they set dates for further strikes.
The GMB union said more than 10,000 of its members in eight Ambulance Trusts in England and Wales would stage four more nationwide strikes on February 6-20 and March 6-20. On January 23rd and January 20th there will also be a strike in the West Midlands in the North West on January 24th.
“Our message to Government is clear – talk about pay now,” said Rachel Harrison, national secretary of the GMB, who said the Prime Minister’s and Chancellor’s refusal to find more funds to break the impasse had them ” left no choice but industrial action”.
The GMB also said ministers had made the situation worse by “demonizing” ambulance workers who offered “protection of life and limb” on strike days.
Grant Shapps, the business secretary, said this week that legislation giving ministers the power to impose minimum standards of service during strikes in key sectors was necessary in part because unions had only made local agreements on previous ambulance strikes , no national.
Unite, which represents around 100,000 NHS workers, also said it would meet on Wednesday to set further dates for strikes by its ambulance members, with action expected to last until February and March if the Government fails to hold wage negotiations. Ambulance workers in Wales are said to be on strike as early as Thursday and Monday.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said support for strikes was growing because ministers “ignored” and “insulted” NHS workers and “now threatened them with sacking if they fight for decent pay”.