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January 29, 2011

UK ambulance union may strike

Wiltshire Times

BRISTOL, England — Unison are threatening industrial action, which could include strikes, next week after failing to resolve a dispute with management at Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS).

The union had issued notice of industrial action due to start yesterday (Thursday) but due to a challenge by GWAS over the legality of the process, Unison postponed it.

But after more talks between the two sides at Acas in Bristol on Wednesday, Unison issued notice of industrial action which would start at noon on Wednesday. More talks are scheduled for Monday.

The dispute is over new shift patterns which Unison says has left most ambulance staff fatigued and the use of Emergency Care Assistants, who have basic first aid skills, on ambulances.

Unison's Wiltshire rep Dan Tucker, a paramedic, said: "The talks on Wednesday concluded nowhere near a resolution. Because of the trust's attemp to place an injunction on us everything is on the table regarding industrial action up to and including strike action."

David Whiting, GWAS chief executive, said: "We remain committed to avoiding the need for industrial action as that will do nothing to benefit the many hundreds of patients we attend every day."

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