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'Pay us properly' Ambulance workers strike across the North East and County Durham

Ambulance workers are striking all across the North East today (February 6)&nbsp;to campaign for better pay and working conditions Credit: SARAH CALDECOTT <i>(Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)</i>
Ambulance workers are striking all across the North East today (February 6) to campaign for better pay and working conditions Credit: SARAH CALDECOTT (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

Ambulance workers are striking all across the North East today (February 6) to campaign for better pay and working conditions.

As ambulance workers across the region took strike action on Monday morning, The Northern Echo travelled to picket lines in Hartlepool and Bishop Auckland to talk to those taking part.

According to GMB union, more than 750 GMB Union ambulance workers across the North East have walked out as part of the protests.

Paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff are all taking part in the action, with some in Bishop Auckland and Gateshead striking alongside their nursing colleagues.

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The Northern Echo:
The Northern Echo:

Speaking to The Echo at the protest taking place outside Bishop Auckland General Hospital, Michael Hunt, GMB regional officer, said ambulance workers were taking industrial action in response to the unsatisfactory pay rise offered by Government.

He said: "Pay's obviously an issue with the cost-of-living crisis, some of the ambulance crews are on less money than you can make in Aldi as a checkout operator.

"We really need to do something, the ambulance have said 'you know what, we've had enough of this', we've had years of being put down by the Tory government.

"We really need to do something, because if we don't do it now, if not now, when?

"We want a decent pay rise, it's all very well [that] all the MPs telling everyone to clap for us, we'd rather they just pay us properly."

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The Northern Echo:
The Northern Echo:

This comes after ambulance service workers in the region voted to strike over the Government’s imposed 4 per cent pay award, and what the GMB said is the Government’s apparent attempts to ‘smear’ them over life and limb cover on strike days.

Workers from North East Ambulance service took part in the action, which began at 6:01am and is expected to last for 24 hours.

Meanwhile, workers are expected to be picketing between 8am and 6pm.

In the North East, strike action took place in Bishop Auckland, Gateshead, Coulby Newham, Consett, Hartlepool North, Pallion, Hawkeys Lane, Russell House, and South Shields.

While in Hartlepool, there was a great show of support for strikers as they picketed in the cold, with passing cars honking and being met by strikers cheers.

The Northern Echo:
The Northern Echo:

Jo Hepworth, 35, from Hartlepool, senior organiser for GMB, said ambulance workers did not wish to be striking today and would rather provide care to patients, but current conditions have left them no choice.

She said: "They're here asking for a better pay rise, better terms and conditions, they obviously don't want to be here.

"They want to be able to provide the care they've signed up to do the job for, but the strike is not just about pay.

"It's about patient safety as well, it's about saying to the government the NHS needs help, and that's why they're here today.

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The Northern Echo:
The Northern Echo:

"When the paramedics pick up their patients, they're standing for hours and hours outside A+E with that one patient, sometimes it's a full shift.

"It's not just the ambulance system that's broken, it's the whole NHS. That's why everybody's standing here today to say something needs to give."

She also called on the government to resume negotiations with the union so an agreement on pay and working conditions could be made.