Two unions suspend ambulance worker walkouts after ministers agree to pay talks - but another still set to go ahead

3 March 2023, 17:39 | Updated: 3 March 2023, 20:48

Strikes by thousands of ambulance workers have been suspended after GMB and other unions agreed to further talks with the Government.
Strikes by thousands of ambulance workers have been suspended after GMB and other unions agreed to further talks with the Government. Picture: Getty / Alamy

By Chris Samuel

Walkouts by ambulance workers due to take place next week have been suspended after GMB and Unison agreed to talks with the government.

Tens of thousands of ambulance workers had been set to strike on this coming Monday and March 8 in a dispute over conditions and pay.

But but GMB and Unison have now suspended strike action, after being persuaded to re-enter talks with ministers.

However, Unite, the smallest of the three ambulance unions, has said its strike on March 6 is set to go ahead after it rejected the offer of pay talks, calling them an "ultimatum".

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It added it wants to discuss pay increases, rather than the reported one-off payment Health Secretary Steve Barclay is said to be considering.

On Friday, Mr Barclay, wrote to unions informing them that talks could now take place on pay for this year and next year.

Announcing the suspension of strike action, GMB revealed it been assured there is more money for pay rises this year and next that is above existing budgets, and that talks will start next week.

Health Secretary wrote to unions on Friday informing them that talks could be held on pay for this year and next year
Health Secretary wrote to unions on Friday informing them that talks could be held on pay for this year and next year. Picture: Getty

GMB members in the Welsh Ambulance service who were expected to go on strike have also agreed to suspend action on Monday for further talks with the trust and the Welsh government.

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Secretary, said: "GMB ambulance workers announced a tightening of the derogations for cover on strike days.

"Less than 24 hours later we received a letter from the Secretary of State for Health, Steve Barclay, inviting us and other unions to pay talks.

"This is a huge shift from the government, who for months have refused to consider negotiations on pay. Now, they are saying they are willing to sit down and talk.

Paramedics and GMB Union representatives wave flags to motorists during industrial action on February 6, 2023
Paramedics and GMB Union representatives wave flags to motorists during industrial action on February 6, 2023. Picture: Getty
Ambulance workers from the GMB Union hold flags as they form a picket line outside Walton Ambulance station, in south-west London on February 20, 2023.
Ambulance workers from the GMB Union hold flags as they form a picket line outside Walton Ambulance station, in south-west London on February 20, 2023. Picture: Getty

"The government has given assurances of additional cash for both years above existing budgets and that any deal will respect the existing Agenda for Change structure.

Rachel Harrison speaking to the media outside GMB's headquarters in January.
Rachel Harrison speaking to the media outside GMB's headquarters in January. Picture: Alamy

"GMB's ambulance workers have agreed to suspend industrial action so talks can begin - however the strike will return with a vengeance should talks break down."

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