AMBULANCE workers in England’s largest county could strike over the decision by their bosses to no longer recognise their union.
Unite claims that managers at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust are trying to silence them from raising patient safety concerns by derecognising the union.
And now it is beginning the legal process to ballot its 450 paramedics and other members at the trust for strike action or industrial action short of a strike.
The ballot result could be known by the end of the month – and the union insists that whatever action is taken they will be putting the safety of patients first.
Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “The management is trying to silence Unite after it raised legitimate concerns over patient safety that could flow from the shake-up of ambulance services in the next five years.”
He added: “The trust’s behaviour is mind-boggling given last week’s Francis report which placed great emphasis on whistleblowing and ‘a duty of candour’.”
Mr Cunliffe insisted that any industrial action would be a “last resort” and hopefully would be avoided by persuading bosses to think again about derecognition.
“We haven’t decided what the content of action would be but if it went ahead it would be bound to affect some services to the public,” he said.
The YAS employs more than 4,300 people and chief executive David Whiting said: “We carefully reflected upon this difficult matter before advising Unite the Union of our decision to derecognise them.
“Unfortunately the working relationship with Unite remains disappointing and we have not received a constructive contribution to the difficult decisions that the Trust has been required to make for the future.”