Business Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday accused ambulance workers of being outside the bounds of “civilised society”.
Thousands of ambulance workers, including paramedics and call handlers, will walk out on strike today (Wednesday) after a failure to reach agreement on pay.
Shapps accused unions of behaving in a way that was not acceptable in a “civilised society”, claiming they had failed to negotiate an agreed level of service with NHS employers.
“I don’t think any civilised society should have a situation where we can’t get agreement to, for example, have an ambulance turn up on a strike day… ” he said.
The GMB which represents many ambulance workers called it an “extraordinary attack”.
“He surely knows that across NHS trusts, GMB members who care for the public every single day, work closely with employers to provide appropriate cover on strike days and have left picket lines to help out on urgent calls”.
Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison, another ambulance union, accused Shapps of mouthing an “utter lie”, saying there was no national agreement because the structure of services varied from one region to another.
Sixes and Sevens
Almost simultaneously with an announcement last week that the power of unions will be curbed with new legislation, Sunak expressed a wish to sit and speak with unions in order to resolve ongoing pay and work condition disputes. The big stick and the half a carrot school of negotiation.
It is, perhaps, time for Sunak to sit his ministers down and request that they offer something other than a continuation of real wage cuts and abysmal working conditions, asking NHS workers to continue to suffer the financial burden of the capitalist crisis is widely perceived as grossly unjust with opposition MPs scoring easy points in the Commons against the Tory benches.
Considering inflation is currently near to 11% and any change implemented next year will not match inflation then either, it is unlikely public opinion will fall in with Shapps’ warped thinking.