Non-emergency ambulance staff have voted to strike over missing pay, the GMB said this afternoon (Tuesday 2 August).
The union said that GMB members had voted for industrial action in a consultative ballot in a dispute with patient transport service contractor Coperforma over the missing pay. Since the ballot closed, several staff have reported that their current pay is also overdue.
A formal ballot is now expected to take place with the prospect of a strike next month if Coperforma and sub-contractor Docklands Medical Services do not pay staff what they are owed.
The GMB said: “Patience has worn thin and members will now require both stability and assurances that pay issues will be settled in the short and long term to prevent strike action.
“GMB members in Sussex patient transport services have voted overwhelmingly to fight for outstanding back pay owed by contractor Coperforma and new employer Docklands Medical Services.
“Of the 63.5 per cent of balloted members who returned their ballot papers, 92 per cent voted in favour of action in the consultative ballot.
“Docklands and Coperforma have repeatedly promised to honour all staff liabilities including outstanding back pay for overtime and unsocial hours payments, holiday pay and pension contributions but have now said that employees may have to wait as long as six months to receive payment.
“GMB estimates that the total back pay amounts to around £45,000 for all staff.
“The result will see GMB move to undertake an ERS (Electoral Reform Society) independent industrial action ballot with a view to taking possible strike action in early September if agreement can’t be reached on members finally receiving their outstanding payments.”
GMB regional organiser Gary Palmer said: “This ballot result should be seen by Coperforma and Docklands Medical Services as a clear warning that even the most dedicated, caring and loyal staff can only be pushed so far.
“The continuing failure to pay members significant back pay amounting to £45,000, together with this month’s failure to pay around a third of the staff their basic salary on time means that employees’ confidence in their employer is at an all-time low.
“After seeing their last employer become insolvent leaving staff high and dry is bad enough but to then see your new employer struggling to not only keep promises to settle monies owed but to also struggle to even get basic salaries paid into accounts on time will leave staff with real concerns about what will happen over the next four weeks, let alone over the long term of the contract.
“The GMB ballot was based on a simple question to staff: Are you prepared to wait up to six months for money owed to you or should your employer seek to settle outstanding pay immediately?
“The result is clear. Patience has worn thin and members will now require both stability and assurances that pay issues will be settled in the short and long term to prevent the very real possibility of strike action.
“The working agreement between employees and should be simple – our members are expected to turn up on time, carry out their duties professionally and to the best of their ability.
“In return their employer should at the very least ensure that the remuneration staff get for those duties is correct and paid on time.
“It shouldn’t be that difficult, should it?”
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