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Yorkshire Ambulance Service chiefs scrap union talks
AMBULANCE bosses in Yorkshire have been accused of “gagging and bullying” tactics after they decided to stop recognising the Unite union.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) said it made the decision because of the “disappointing” working relationship between the two organisations and said the union had not been constructive in discussing changes.
Unite has 450 ambulance staff on its books, including about 50 based in York.
Rachael Maskell, Unite’s head of health, said: “They have derecognised Unite, as the trade union representing paramedics and other ambulance staff, for raising concerns about the proposed shake-up in ambulance services.
“It appears that managers have something to hide and don’t want to engage with a legitimate trade union which has been speaking up on behalf of its ambulance staff members and the Yorkshire public.”
Unite had recently criticised the ambulance service for its plans to introduce “emergency care assistants” to frontline ambulance crews. The union said the new role required only six weeks of training, while a paramedic must undergo a two-year degree.
The union said it would not allow management to “bully staff into accepting a second-class service for the public of Yorkshire, putting lives at risk”.
David Whiting, chief executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, 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 the union 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, particularly as we seek to maintain high-quality care for patients against the realities of the tough economic climate.
“I would like to reassure members of the public that all our decisions are focused on continuing to deliver a high-quality and responsive service to patients and this will always remain our top priority.”
The service said it was still committed to working in partnership with UNISON and the relationship was not affected by the decision to derecognise Unite.