Ambulance strike action called off...

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 January 2011

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STRIKE action involving ambulance staff in North Somerset has been called off amid concerns that an issuing notice 'lacked detail'.

Unison members at Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) were expected to begin working to rule at 12noon today (Thurs) following an ongoing dispute with the organisation over changes to shift patterns.

But yesterday, the union postponed the industrial action because of concerns about the legal process surrounding the planned move.

GWAS chief executive David Whiting welcomed the news and has pledged to continue talks with the union to settle the long-standing row.

He said: “The legal advice we obtained indicated there were concerns about the lack of detail provided by Unison in issuing us with notice of industrial action. Having raised this with Unison, I welcome its decision to withdraw its notice and postpone the industrial action that was due to begin on Thursday.”

The dispute surrounds a change to shifts. The union claims the changes could mean workers face pay cuts, while non-peak cover could be ‘slimmed down’ in areas such as Weston.

Earlier this month a ballot found in favour of industrial action and although GWAS put forward seven packages last week, Unison said it was not enough. On Monday the branch secretary of Unison, Dan Tucker, said: “We gave the trust the opportunity of putting a ‘package’ together, but its offer falls far short of reassuring staff that the new system could ever deliver high standards.

“The trust’s proposals and enforced changes will continue to leave lives at risk, which is something our members are telling us they’re not prepared to accept.

Mr Whiting said: “I can confirm we have arranged to meet with Unison and will use the opportunity to discuss the package of proposals we presented to the union last week with a view to reaching an amicable agreement.

“We are keen to avoid industrial action and committed to finding an amicable alternative to Unison’s dispute, for the benefit of our staff and the patients we serve.”

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