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Date: Fri 23 September 2011

Scotland's ambulance workers overwhelmingly reject working time plans

Scotland's ambulance workers have overwhelmingly rejected latest proposals by the Scottish Ambulance Service to resolve a protracted working time dispute.

Members of the UNISON and Unite unions were balloted on the proposed changes to their terms and conditions, with both trades unions returning an 80 per cent rejection of the offer of 12th August.

However, proposals for a lump sum payment of 250 a year for workers to respond to meal break during unpaid time, plus 50 per call-out, fails to address the wider issues at play.

David Forbes, Regional Organiser for UNISON, said: "The employer's offer was put to our members and they have voted overwhelmingly to reject these proposals.

"Ambulance work is very demanding and our members greatly value balance and stability in their working time, during which it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that adequate staff and resources are in place to cover these periods. Our members deal with life and death decisions day in, day out. That's why it's so important to staff - and for the piece of mind of the Scottish public - that often long and stressful shifts are underpinned by clarity in the terms and conditions of this essential workforce."

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said, "This rejection merely scratches the surface of the issue. Our members want to see the Scottish Ambulance Service properly resourced and fit to serve the public. Instead they have been demonised for following imposed working time changes. In 2004, the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) reduced our members' working week by 2.5 hours. Simply trying to pigeon-hole the unresolved issue of unpaid working time as a 'meal-break' fails to address the matter. Lump sum payments merely ignore the problems created by AfC - problems that can be resolved very quickly by the Scottish Government and through a negotiated agreement which both UNISON and Unite members are fully committed."

ENDS

Notes to editors

UNISON's ballot saw a turnout of 74.1 per cent of members. Of these members, 79.2 per cent voted to reject the proposals. Unite's ballot saw a turnout of 67 per cent of members. Of these members, 80 per cent voted to reject the proposals.

Ambulance workers, along with other NHS staff, work 37.5 hours per week, with an additional 30 minute unpaid meal break each day.

For further information, contact David Forbes, Regional Organiser for UNISON, on 07985 121397 or 0131 226 0059 or John Gallacher, Unite Scottish Ambulance Service Convenor, on 07789 923749.

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