AMBULANCE workers have called off industrial action which was planned to start this week — after concessions were made in a dispute over expenses and staffing cover.
Members of the GMB union at North West Ambulance Service were set to refuse overtime shifts this week, but suspended the action after last minute talks with bosses.
The dispute centred on the trust’s Cost Improvement Programme for 2014/15, which saw the withdrawal of mileage and subsistence allowances for overtime shifts in April, among several other controversial measures designed to save £6.5 million from the emergency services budget.
But the union said after two days of talks: “Excess mileage rates will be paid to all staff working overtime at stations other than your base station. This follows them stopping these payments in April this year saying that overtime is not required. They obviously now believe it is.”
Last month, bosses suspended plans to reduce paramedic cover in dozens of towns, including Blackburn, Nelson and Burnley, after extra funding was arranged with commissioners.
And the GMB said they have now agreed that no cuts will be made to front line services until a full analysis has been carried out of the demands on the service.
The union said in a statement: “We believe that any analysis will show we require either more vehicles or a different way of servicing the ever increasing demand. What we do know is that our members cannot carry on with the current levels of activity.”
Bosses have also agreed to some demands around the skills-mix of crews, but were ‘not prepared to move’ on a demand for subsistence allowances during training, the union said.
It added: “We believe this offer is enough for us to suspend the planned action and carry out further consultations with our membership.
“Plans for that consultation will be published early next week and we would like to thank members for the support shown and our Industrial Action Committee and negotiators for all their effort and hard work.”