Paramedics, medical staff and, for the first time in their history, midwives, went out on strike yesterday over a government pay dispute.
Burnley members of the Unison, Unite, GMB and Royal College of Midwives unions joined their colleagues across the country in withdrawing their labour from 7am to 11am on Monday.
Picket lines gathered outside Burnley General Hospital and the Ambulance Station in Trafalgar Street where staff held placards and received frequent honks of support from passing cars.
The strike action on Monday will be followed by an overtime ban in the ambulance service for the rest of the week, with other NHS employees working to their contracted hours during the same period. The intervention by Government means that the 1% will only be available to approximately 40% of NHS employees and it will not be consolidated in to basic pay.
Catherine Wragg, a midwife since 1985, said: “The government pay offer is unfair and does not include everybody. The NHS works on goodwill with many staff not taking breaks and working longer hours for no money. We’ve had enough.”
Six paramedics based in Trafalgar Street said they were angry at the government’s “hypocrisy” in over-ruling the independent NHS Pay Review Body’s (PRB) recommendation for a 1% consolidated pay rise across the board for all NHS staff.
They were also angry that the ambulance service is treated differently to the other emergency services in that they have to work for 40 years or until 68 to get full pension. The paramedics said they would still respond to life-threatening cases.
This is in contrast to its view when the independent Pay Review Body for MPs recommended that MPs should receive a pay rise of 11%. In that case the government said it could not interfere with the recommendation.
Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer, said “NHS Staff take action with a heavy heart as their only priority is to deliver the best patient care, quality and outcomes. Even after staff voted to take strike action and action short of a strike the Secretary of State for Health has refused to meet with the unions representing NHS staffs.
“Members have seen workload increasing and colleagues being overworked. When the cost of living has increased members have endured not just pay freezes but pay cuts, as NHS pay rates are frozen to April 2013 rates.”