Ambulance staff dispute set to escalate

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Union chiefs have predicted the escalation of industrial action by ambulance staff in a dispute over new shift patterns.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service workers who are members of the Unite union were due to go on strike for four hours today – less than 48 hours after the end of a 24-hour walk-out.

It came after about three-quarters of those who were balloted voted for strike action over proposed shift patterns that could see staff, including paramedics, working for up to 10 hours without a meal break.

The strike was called almost a year after Unite was de-recognised by the ambulance service for negotiations.

Unite officer Terry Cunliffe said: “Our members would rather we didn’t take industrial action, but the trust won’t recognise their union and now its plans are coming home to roost.” He said fellow union Unison could also be set to call industrial action.

The ambulance trust, which had accused the strikers of being “reckless and neglectful of patient care”, was unavailable for comment yesterday.