UK: Ambulance Workers Stage Mass Strike

Ambulance workers in England and Wales staged a mass walkout Wednesday in a dispute over pay and working conditions. Leaders of the National Health Service have warned that they cannot guarantee ambulance availability for patients during the strike.

UK: Ambulance Workers Stage Mass Strike
Image credit: reuters

Facts

  • Ambulance workers in England and Wales staged a mass walkout Wednesday in a dispute over pay and working conditions. Leaders of the National Health Service have warned that they cannot guarantee ambulance availability for patients during the strike.
  • The strike, involving three labor unions and over 20K workers, is the latest in a series of labor actions that have taken place in the UK as a mounting cost-of-living crisis, spurred by double-digit inflation, grips the country. On Tuesday, nurses went on strike over pay that has not kept up with inflation, with rail workers and border control workers scheduled to do the same later this week.
  • The government has announced that in the event of a strike by NHS paramedics, patients with non-urgent conditions, who would normally be transported to the hospital by ambulance, can instead be driven in taxis.
  • Military personnel reportedly are assisting to offset the strike. Some have helped with transporting patients, while others have driven ambulances.
  • The UK's Conservative government has indicated that it will not exceed the wage increase recommendations of independent pay review bodies, despite threats of further action by trade unions.
  • Department of Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay urged the public to "use their common sense" during the strike, which comes at a time when the NHS is already facing considerable pressure from a spike in flu and COVID cases.

Sources: Sky News, New York Times, ITV, Daily Mail, Euro, and Reuters.

Narratives

  • Left narrative, as provided by Social Review. Not only have nurses and frontline workers borne the brunt of the pandemic, they now face a government trying to nickel-and-dime them out of a necessary and well-deserved pay increase, all while dealing with record-high inflation and a buckling healthcare system. Public sector wages have stagnated profoundly under conservative governance. The unacceptable exploitation of essential workers needs to stop.
  • Right narrative, as provided by The Telegraph. Unions must face the fact that every day they stay on the picket line puts the lives of countless Britons at risk. The government is scrambling to find solutions to the economic crisis sparked by COVID and inflation, as well as the market destabilization induced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The unions are simply not playing fair by ignoring the reality of current economic circumstances — this is a safety issue.