Ambulance strikes: Workers set for biggest walkout after rejecting Welsh Government pay offer

Around 1,500 Welsh Ambulance Service workers who are part of the GMB union will join Unite members in striking on Monday 20 February.

Wales' biggest day of co-ordinated strike action among ambulance staff is due to take place on Monday 20th after a second trade union representing ambulance workers has rejected the latest pay offer.

GMB's Welsh NHS lead thanked the Welsh Government for "actually entering into talks" but said the revised offer was just "too low" for members.

The Welsh Government said it was disappointed GMB has turned down the revised pay offer, equivalent to an extra 3% on top of the current 4.5% average salary increase, saying it was the best offer it could make.

Around 1,500 workers will now take part in a mass walkout on Monday 20 February as members of the GMB union join Welsh Ambulance Service workers from Unite.

It is the largest day of industrial action across the ambulance service in Wales as previously both unions have only taken part in strikes on separate dates.

Around two thirds of GMB members rejected the offer, which saw an extra three per cent added to the existing deal pay packet.

Nathan Holman, GMB Welsh NHS lead, said: “This is a clear result and members have had their say on the offer. 

“We thank Welsh Government for actually entering talks, but if this is their final offer it’s too low for our members. 

“Now more than ever, we need a UK wide solution to the scourge of low pay that has affected our NHS and ambulance services."

On Wednesday 15 February, Unite announced that 92% of its members had rejected the new offer. They are set to strike on 20, 21 and 22 February.

Unite have announced three strike dates for Welsh Ambulance Service workers after rejecting the latest pay offer.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed the GMB has rejected our improved pay offer. We believe the offer, equivalent to an extra 3% – 1.5% of which will be in pay every year – is a strong one. This is on top of the 4.5% average pay rise for 2022-23, which has already been awarded.

“This is the best offer we can make in our current funding settlement. We have drawn together all our available funding from across the Welsh Government to make this improved offer to try and resolve the dispute.

“We will wait for the views of other health trade union colleagues who continue to discuss this offer before considering the next steps. We are committed to continuing to work in social partnership.”

It said it is working with the service to ensure that life-saving care will still be provided on Monday 20 during the strike and the patient "disruption is minimised".

20 military personnel in Wales will be paired with managers in clinical roles to drive ambulances during the strikes.

A spokesperson added that it was vital members of the public did all they could to help reduce pressure on the service.

They said: "It is vital that all of us to do all we can to minimise pressure on the ambulance service during the industrial action and consider carefully what activities we take part in.

"Anyone in immediate danger should call 999 and we encourage people to use the NHS 111 Wales website for health advice where there is no immediate threat to life, or speak to or visit a pharmacist, GP or minor injuries unit.”

Sonia Thompson, Assistant Director of Operations at the Welsh Ambulance Service, echoed the plea for members of the public to consider options before calling 999.

Ms Thompson said: “They can head to the NHS 111 Wales website in the first instance to check their symptoms and get free, trusted healthcare advice to help them.

“Your local pharmacy will also be able to provide expert advice on minor illnesses and medicines.”