Ambulance staff in strike vote as bosses accused over patient safety

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AMBULANCE workers could go on strike in less than a month as a dispute over union recognition continues.

Unite said they had given management at Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) a final opportunity to resolve the problems before balloting over industrial action.

The dispute centres around the union being derecognised, which Unite says is because they raised fears about patient safety.

YAS bosses said the move had been made because the union had not given a “constructive contribution to the difficult decisions that the trust has been required to make for the future”.

Terry Cunliffe, Unite regional officer, said: “We have asked the chief executive for a meeting and given him a week to reply, asking to sit down and talk to him about our safety concerns.

“We want to give him one last chance of pulling away from the disaster of industrial action.

“At the moment our members feel they have no alternative. Their voice is not going to be heard by managers.”

On February 4, YAS derecognised Unite – which has 450 members at the Wakefield-based service. At the time, chief executive David Whiting said the “working relationship with Unite the union remains disappointing”.

When asked for comment last night by the Yorkshire Post, the service did not want to add anything further.

Mr Cunliffe said members felt the move was in response to fears they had raised over patient safety because of changes to the workforce.

He said they saw the derecognition as an attempt by the trust to “silence” workers.

“If we cannot talk to them, they won’t listen to us and won’t take any notice of a significant group of workers, we are saying you leave us with no alternative but to fight it in a different way,” Mr Cunliffe said.

The ballot is due to take place within the next week and if members vote to strike, it is anticipated that industrial action could start on March 18.