Around 30 Unite activists, trade unions reps and community campaigners from across Yorkshire met in Leeds on 26th March to discuss the recent attacks on ambulance workers pay and conditions and subsequent derecognising of Unite when they rejected these policies.
Michael Johnson, Leeds City Socialist Party
Branch Secretary and ambulance worker Debbie Wilkinson, a paramedic for 20 years, discussed how the trust planned £46 million worth of cuts over the next 5 years from frontline services with the trust planning to reduce ambulance crews from two skilled workers to one which the ambulance workers in attendance and FBU activists there said would undoubtedly cost lives in emergency situations. Unite rejected this with 98% voting against, and despite long discussions between the union and the trust before this around alternatives to these cuts, Unite was derecognised and informed that management were ‘disappointed’ with the union’s willingness to deal with management.
Other speakers such as Frank Keogh, chair of Unite’s Health National Industrial Sector Committee, and Terry Cunliffe, Unite regional officer, spoke further about the threat this attack presented to other trade unions, especially as GMB has previously been derecognised. Unite members welcome the support other trade unions and the public, both at the recent protest at Leeds Metropolitan University (see previous report – https://leedssocialistparty.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/unite-protest-against-union-busting-ambulance-boss/) and a Hull NHS trust meeting. They also called on trade unionists and campaigners to support Unite members when they take strike action on the 2nd April in order to fight back against derecognition and the attacks on services and standards in the NHS.