I have never, ever, seen a national NHS pay offer that had a separate, extra, set of proposals for Ambulance members. Why is this?
It is because we stood together: strong, disciplined and organised! It is because, more than any other NHS staff group, we put our money where our mouth is! It is because issues within Ambulance Services, particularly our own, need to be sorted out, and sorted out fast! It is because ambulance staff care about ambulance staff.
It is because we are LAS UNISON – Bulldog Branch!
We shouldn’t turn our nose up atÂ the offerÂ either. We were never taking action for a big increase, but for the principle of fairness.
That principle saw usÂ stage two solidÂ 4 hour strikes. It saw our members and representatives standing in solidarity on 34 picket-lines across London. We have put a marker down: treat us right or face the consequences. We are professionals but we will not be taken for mugs.
If the 12 hour strike had gone ahead on the 29th January these are the numbers of people from ‘outside agencies’ that would have been drafted in to do our jobs:
1200 Military Personal.
400 NHS Volunteers.
40 Private Sector Ambulances
Let us be clear on this. LAS UNISON supports the London Ambulance Service. We want the Service to be successful. A successful Service is in the interests of all of us.
We want Londoners to have confidence in our Service. We want our staff to also have confidence in their Service. We want pride back!Â
We want the right Management, at the right time, doing the right thing, for the right reason. We want a Senior Management Team that is visible and not elusive. We want negotiation and dialogue, not diktats and electronic gobbledegook.
We want communication not propaganda. Meaningful meetings not management textbook conversations.
LAS UNISON is not here today – gone tomorrow. We have been here in the past, are here now, and will be here in the future. We cannot, and will not, bale out when the going gets tough
Strikes in the ambulance service are rare. I am pleased about that. We are a 999 Service that is funded by the public, owned by the public and respected by the public, despite the attemptsÂ of the current government.
However, when we are forced to take action, we will deliver. LAS UNISON and our members have a stake in our Service that will not be taken away, either by force or fancy words.
I wrote a Blog posting in October 2012 on the appointment of our previous Chief Executive entitled ‘Ambulance Belle’.
This is part of what I wrote:
‘Whoever was appointed, of course, does not mean milk and honey from now on. We stillÂ have a battle on our hands.
The appointment of a new Chief Executive will not make the Coalition cuts go away, the Â£50m reduction in vital funding stop,Â orÂ reverse the proposed 980 posts being lost over the next five years. We wish it was so simple.
The London Ambulance ServiceÂ liner is still sailing upon the government’s austerity agenda. The concern of Unison members is that nothing will change except that we have a new captain on the bridge.Â
Prove us wrong Ann.’
It is a fact that our Service has never been in such a state as it is now. It is a fact that the words crisis and chaos are now tags that, when once strangers, are now firmly attached to the LAS.Â It is a fact that decisions taken at a senior level have added to the chaos and crisis instead of eliminating them.
Not everything can beÂ landed at the door of the Chief Executive of course. The buck may stop outside it,Â but there are a few people in senior posts that helped pass it. They also need to re-think their future. There are still seats in the lifeboat and plenty of willing hands to row.
We are entering a new era and from what I have seen around the Service (it is early days of course) smiles are returning to faces, springs returning to steps and sighs of despair are turning to sighs of relief.
My letter on behalf of LAS UNISON to the former Chief Executive is still residing in the ‘in-tray’ upon her desk. It will not go away. The issues within it have to be addressed.
Our demands still stand:
- All Paramedics should be in Band 6.
- Re-think the role of theÂ Senior Paramedic.
- Secure the future of Technicians.
- Make it easier, and affordable,Â for our own staff to study to become Paramedics.
- Make it financially attractive for staff to stay with LAS.
- Create a ‘London package’ for all our staff to be a unique benefit working for LAS
I believe, like many, that the LAS is in a safe pair of hands with the Interim Chief Executive Dr Fionna Moore. Respected, experienced and a positive link to the pre ‘chaos and crisis’ days. A safe pair of hands is one thing, standing still is another.
We look forward to meeting, agreeing, and getting on with transforming the London Ambulance Service so that staff are valued and rewarded fully and fairly for the job that they all do, day in and day out, to keep Londoners safe. We are all frontline!
Â Information on all issues can be found elsewhere on our website.
If you are reading this, work for the London Ambulance Service or are eligible to join, and are not yet a member of UNISON Join Today!
We are stronger together.