Ambulance staff set for industrial action over pay dispute, says staff trade union

Unite members are set to take action short of a strike including an overtime ban and a work-to-rule

By Tara Fitzpatrick for STV News

Paramedics and ambulance crew members have voted for industrial action over a long-running pay dispute.

The Unite union confirmed the move as the “first step” for members in an ongoing row with the NHS and Scottish Government.

The union represent around 1,500 members of the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) and say they will take continuous action short of a strike from 00.01am on November 25.

An overtime ban and work-to-rule will be included in the action with Unite members only working to contractual terms within their working hours.

They will stick strictly to start shift and finish times and take scheduled breaks.

The action will include advanced practitioners, paramedics, planners, administrative, clerical, real time analysts and business intelligence staff.

However, Unite say the measures have been designed to ensure there is no impact to responses to emergency incidents.

On November 4, the NHS members formally rejected the latest pay offer made by NHS Scotland by 74%.

Strike action was also voted for at a number of regional and national health boards.

The Retail Price Index (RPI), which Unite bases wage claims on, is currently standing at a 40-year high of 12.6%.

Union representatives say the current offer on the table is insufficient to and represents a real terms pay cut for workers.

They say the pay dispute is directly contributing to NHS losing staff due to being over worked and under paid.

Jamie McNamee, Unite Scottish Ambulance Service convener said: “Unite’s objective in taking this first step of action short of strike is to highlight patient and staff safety along with the ongoing concerns we have over the poor quality of care due to years of under investment and cuts.

“The offer currently on the table is insufficient and unacceptable. In real terms it represents a significant pay cut. The present situation is directly contributing to the NHS losing senior staff due to being overworked and poorly paid. Our NHS workers deserve better from the Scottish Government and now they have a final opportunity to make a fair pay offer before this pay dispute dramatically escalates.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I’m disappointed Unite members in the Scottish Ambulance Service are taking industrial action.

“I have always stressed that dialogue is essential and I am committed to ongoing discussions to avoid strikes.

“The safety of patients is our top priority and we’ll work with boards to put detailed contingency plans in place.”

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