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Unite the Union Industrial Action - 3pm-8pm on 14 and 17 February 2014

17 February 2014

Ian Brandwood, Executive Director of HR at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “On Friday 14 February 47 individuals from across Yorkshire and the Humber who were rostered to be on duty took part in the industrial action over the 5-hour period from 3pm until 8pm (this equated to about 1% of our total workforce and only 12% of Unite the Union members). Our plans to maintain high standards of patient care and minimise any impact of the strike were effective.

“It is very clear that there is minimal support from Unite the Union’s members for strike action and we remain concerned that the union continues to mislead both its members and the public with inaccurate and potentially defamatory claims about the terms and conditions of the new rotas.

“Terry Cunliffe has declined to attend meetings to discuss the proposals and he has been sent copies of documentation on several occasions which clearly state: ‘The new agreed rest break window for a 10-hour shift starts at 3˝ hours and ends at 7 hours, and for a 12-hour shift starts at 4 hours and ends at 8 hours.’ ‘Under the new model the rest break will be protected and held at an individual’s base station.’  It is, therefore, difficult to understand why Mr Cunliffe persists in stating that staff will not get rest breaks. Staff welfare is a high priority for us and the changes very much support the provision of rest breaks.

“We are fully assured that we have followed all due process, including adherence to Care Quality Commission standards, and undertaken extensive consultation with staff and UNISON on the changes we are making.  However, our primary focus remains firmly on safeguarding patient care and we are committed to minimising the level of disruption to our services. 

“Industrial action is certainly not in the best interests of patients and, as we prepare for the next period of industrial action on Monday 17 February (3pm - 8pm), we would like to reassure members of the public that our contingency plans are robust.  We remain committed to providing a safe, responsive and high-quality emergency service.

“We would like to remind members of the public to use our services wisely and ask that people only call 999 for an ambulance when someone has a life-threatening or serious illness or injury.  Anyone requiring advice or treatment for a non-emergency situation or minor ailment should consider options such as self-care, consulting a local pharmacist, contacting the NHS 111 urgent care service or visiting a walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.”

Notes to Editor: 
1. Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust formally advised Unite the Union that, with effect from 4 February 2013, it has decided to cease to voluntarily recognise Unite the Union for the purposes of collective bargaining, ie negotiations on behalf of their members.  Recognition of Unite the Union has been on a voluntary basis, not a statutory one.  Consequently the Trust is able to determine to no longer recognise Unite the Union on a voluntary basis.

2.   Unite the Union members represent a very small percentage of YAS staff (around 7%) and recent industrial action saw only about 1% of the Trust’s workforce join the strike. However, Unite the Union has continued to release factually inaccurate and potentially defamatory information about changes the Trust is making to its A&E Operations.

3.   Senior management representatives at the Trust continue to have open dialogue with ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). The latest talks with ACAS on 30 January 2014 were instigated by the Trust and followed the normal conciliation process.  As part of this, Yorkshire Ambulance Service made an offer of further talks with Unite the Union which was rejected.

4.   The Trust is wholly committed to engaging with and involving its staff in matters that affect them and our patients.

5.   The Trust remains committed to working in partnership with UNISON, which is not affected by the decision to derecognise Unite the Union, and to the principles of effective consultation and negotiation. UNISON is the largest trade union within the Trust and represents the majority of our employees. It is Britain and Europe's largest public sector union.

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department