Ambulance workers in South East stage fresh strikes as Unite escalates action over pay

Unite is demanding the government reopens pay negotiations so NHS workers can get a “proper wage offer”

Ambulance workers in the South East are staging further strikes today as part of escalated action over pay.

Members of the Unite union employed at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust and South Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust will strike from 12pm until 10pm on Tuesday (9 May).

Picket lines will be in place at Portsmouth PTS Base, Eastern Road, PO3 6EJ and Thameside Ambulance Station, Cold Harbour Road, Northfleet, Kent, DA11 8NT.

Ambulance workers in the South East are staging further strikes today (Photo: Getty Images)Ambulance workers in the South East are staging further strikes today (Photo: Getty Images)
Ambulance workers in the South East are staging further strikes today (Photo: Getty Images)

It comes after Unite members and those in the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) employed in the NHS in England last month rejected the government’s offer of a lump sum cash payment for 2022/23 and a below inflation increase of 5% pay rise for this year.

Members of most other health unions have already accepted the offer, but Unite says the deal is not enough and is calling on the government to reopen negotiations.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The government must reopen negotiations to ensure that a proper wage offer is made to NHS workers. We have always said that a non-consolidated lump sum for 22/23 would not cut it. So it has turned out.

“The current offer does nothing to resolve the recruitment and retention crisis crippling the NHS. The strike action by our South East ambulance workers is part of Unite’s escalation strategy to exert greater pressure on the government.”

The renewed strike action is part of Unite’s strategy to increase the pressure on the government to grant NHS workers a “fair pay increase”. The union is currently in the process of undertaking a series of industrial action ballots to expand the number of workers able to take industrial action and exert further pressure.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the deal for NHS staff on the Agenda for Change contract, which includes all NHS workers apart from doctors, dentists and senior managers, was the “final offer” as he urged Unite and the RCN to join the majority of health unions in accepting it.

He said: “I’m pleased the NHS Staff Council has voted to accept our pay offer, demonstrating that a majority of NHS staff agree this is a fair and reasonable deal.

“It is now my intention to implement this for all staff on the Agenda for Change contract, and where some unions may choose to remain in dispute, we hope their members, many of whom voted to accept this offer, will recognise this as a fair outcome that carries the support of their colleagues and decide it is time to bring industrial action to an end.”

He cautioned that the 5% pay rise “is the final offer”, adding: “It’s important that those unions recognise the collective decision. It was negotiated collectively, the RCN were at the negotiating table, indeed (RCN chief) Pat Cullen recommended this deal to her own members.”