Shropshire Star

Paramedics and ambulance staff at West Midlands Ambulance Service being balloted for strike action

Almost 750 paramedics and ambulance staff at West Midlands Ambulance Service are being balloted for strike action over calls for a pay rise in line with inflation.

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GMB Union members at the service will be asked if they want to go on strike along the East Midlands Ambulance Service over their four per cent pay award.

Union chiefs in the area say the "imposed" boost from the Government leaves workers facing "another massive real terms pay cut" as they criticised ministers.

Dates of the vote will be announced in the coming days and comes after a ballot was announced for workers at Yorkshire and North East ambulance services.

Workers at the West Midlands service have previously shown a "strong appetite" for strike action with 88 per cent voting in favour of it, on a turnout of 51 per cent.

Stuart Richards, GMB senior organiser, said: "Ambulance workers should be out on the streets trying to save lives – instead they’re worrying about feeding their own families. It’s a national disgrace.

"The Conservatives have been in power for more than 12 years and during that time our ambulance services have crumbled.

"We now face the first ambulance strike in 40 years and it’s a damning indictment of their leadership. GMB Union will stand shoulder to shoulder with our members and fight for the above inflation pay rise that our NHS workers deserve.”

It comes after it was announced the Royal College of Nursing is holding a UK-wide ballot over pay nurses are receiving – including those working in the Black Country and Staffordshire.

Many staff are blaming long shifts, feelings of burnout, struggling to make ends and concerns over patient safety for the move to vote for walk out. It marks the first time in its 106-year history the organisation is holding a ballot or strike action.

The college's Black Country Healthcare representative Phil Cole said: "There are a number of issues that are of concern to nursing staff. It's about the availability of staff. People are leaving because there are not enough hands. It's dependent on bank and agency staff.

"Those coming up to retirement are thinking about leaving. I'm talking to members who just don't want to come to work anymore. They are complaining of burnout, and they are also worried about patient care.

"When I started out in nursing you knew everyone on your ward and all of your colleagues and are used to working together. It's become a situation where you don't know people, leading to concerns about safe care.

"Then there is the cost of living crisis and the impact of having to work long shifts, childcare and in the case of community nursing colleagues, the fuel cost of driving to appointments.

"This has been happening over time and it's not since the onset of Covid. Austerity measures have resulted in an attack on public sector pay and the pandemic has exacerbated the situation."

West Midlands Ambulance Service has been contacted for comment over the GMB Union strike action.