Unite members across Yorkshire took strike action on Tuesday 2nd April against the de-recognition of Unite at Yorkshire Ambulance Service and attempts to introduce Emergency Care Assistants (ECAs) into the service with only 6 weeks training compared to the 2 year paramedics receive.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
The introduction of ECAs is part of a five year workforce review aimed at making saving of £46million, depsite the trust having a surplus last year. As Debbie Wilkinson, Unite Yorkshire Ambulance Service branch secretary, explained to me “we’re not out to demonise ERAs, we just think they should be given the full training and pay that they and this job deserves. As I said on the radio earlier, people think that when they call and ambulance then its two paramedics that arrive who can operate independently, but that won’t be the case anymore as the ERA will have to be supervised by a paramedic.”
It was in opposing these attacks on patient care that led to Unite being suspended, whilst Unison (the larger union in Yorkshire Ambulance Service) who supported these attacks remain recognised (see http://www.uyab.co.uk/latest-news/latest-news/update-march2013 for Unison’s position). Whilst formally Unison has called for re-recognition of Unite, they have failed to mount a serious campaign, unlike how GMB and Unite responded when they refused to negotiate with Plymouth City Council in 2011 when Unison was derecognised there.
Unison has instead run a heavily biased consultation via the Trusts internal e-mail system, where to accept the Trust’s proposals was a simple click, but to reject them you had to load up another page. This was enough for some Unison members to join Unite and more joined today so as not to cross the picket lines.
Pickets took place across 17 sites in Yorkshire with particular impact in Hull and on the East Coast. At Bramley, a manager was posted to the picket line, presumably to keep an eye on the pickets. Picket lines also sent delegations to protest outside Trust Headquarters in Wakefield which was buzzing with photographers, camera operators and journalists reporting on the story.