Meeting the Challenges. Winning Respect
Last month, SIPTU shop stewards, working in the National Ambulance Service, attended a special one-day organising seminar. The seminar, titled Meeting the Challenges. Winning Respect, included presentations from representatives from the European Public Services Union (EPSU), UNISON and the National Ambulance Service and included member-led workshops designed to get to the root of the challenges members face in their everyday working lives.
At the conference, we heard stories from our members working on the frontline every day of the week and how we can work together to improve representation, communication and organising in every ambulance base around the country.
SIPTU Ambulance Sector Organiser, Miriam Hamilton, said: “There was a very healthy engagement and a robust debate at the conference over the challenges members face. Our members are determined to win respect on pay, pensions and the ever-evolving role and responsibilities of ambulance professionals.”
According to SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, one definitive outcome from the seminar is that SIPTU members will flatly reject an attempt by the Government to extend their legal retirement age beyond 65 unless a proper evaluation of the full impact of such a measure is undertaken.
He said: “Our members are determined to engage with the Government on its intention to extend the legal retirement age for public servants from 65 to 70 years of age. We will be campaigning for parity of esteem with other frontline emergency workers. Our demands are simple – we want an independent study on the physical ability of ambulance professionals to perform the full range of life-saving duties at more than 65 years of age.”
Speaking at the seminar, Alan Lofthouse, UNISON National Ambulance Services Officer, discussed the challenges ambulance professionals face in the UK.
He focused on the four pillars underpinning the UNISON Ambulance Campaign, including fair pay for ambulance staff, a safe and sensible retirement age, as well as proper training, development and career progression.
UNISON recently mobilised for pay increases for ambulance staff and, following short-term industrial action, was able to successfully negotiate an agreement on improved terms and conditions for paramedics.
The next stage in the campaign will take place in Cork on Saturday 12th May.
A video of the seminar, which will include contributions from Forsa and Unite can be viewed at the SIPTU Ambulance Sector AGM in Liberty Hall on Monday 14th May.