Britain faces its biggest ambulance strike in 30 years – Copyright AFP STR
The British government rejected union wage demands on Wednesday after ambulance workers joined nurses in voting to strike.
“Our economic circumstances mean that union demands are not affordable,” said Health Secretary Steve Barclay, after the Unison union confirmed that the ambulance service was facing its biggest strike in 30 years.
Paramedics, ambulance technicians and emergency call handlers will walk out for 24 hours before Christmas, Unison announced Tuesday night after its members held a strike vote.
The strike will affect London and four other regions of England as the ambulance service joins nurses from most of Britain in striking over government pay offers, which are well below two inflation digits.
The Royal College of Nursing will hold the first strike in its 106-year history on 15 and 20 December.
Unison General Secretary Christina McAnea said it was a “tough call” for ambulance workers to strike as well.
“But thousands of ambulance workers and their NHS (National Health Service) colleagues know that delays will not abate, nor will waiting times be reduced, until the government acts on wages,” he said.
The nurses’ strike will be sandwiched between the first in a series of two-day walkouts by national rail workers, while postal service employees will stage further walkouts in the run-up to Christmas.
Numerous other public and private sector employees, from lawyers to airport ground staff, have also gone on strike this year as Britain grapples with its worst cost-of-living crisis in generations.