Tuesday, 21 October 2014

You And Whose Army!

What a magnificent turn-out for the four hour strike last Monday 13th October. All in all LAS UNISON organised 34 picket lines across the LAS. We attracted a lot of media attention around the stations in general and particularly at Waterloo HQ.
 
Thanks go to all our members. Whatever role you played on the day, you were all part of our action against the pay policy of this Coalition government.
 
The rain and the military did not deter us!

The military! The military driving London Ambulances. The military driving London Ambulances on the streets of the capital!
 
I don't condemn the military. I condemn the decision and the way it was taken.
 
Our own senior management going behind the backs of UNISON and our members to make a decision that will reverberate for a very long time.
 
To borrow the title of Richard Attenborough's ww2 film: this may be our 'A Bridge Too Far' moment.
 
A decision not to trust their own staff. A decision not to trust the agreement on 'life and limb' cover that they themselves signed up to. The ink was not dry on the agreement when management decided to trivialise it and place the Service at the disposal of outside agencies.
 
Ministry Symmetry
Ministry Symmetry
They could have talked to us. They didn't. They could have trusted us. They didn't.  They could have consulted with us. They didn't.
 
We were told on Friday evening. As I was walking out of HQ on my way home, two soldiers were walking in! Not perfect symmetry, but more like Ministry Symmetry!

We have been at pains to insist and repeat, both in public and in private, that this dispute is not against our Service, management or the people of London, but is against the dishonourable pay policy of the Coalition government.
 
I think the decision made by our Chief Executive and Executive Management Team (EMT) to surreptitiously plan to use the army, police and other NHS staff shows that our Service Directors turned that on its head and used the dispute against their own staff.
 
It is sad to have to say that we had a magnificent turn-out in a strike within an Ambulance Service, particularly our own in London. We shouldn't have to do this.
 
We shouldn't have to do this. But we did. We shouldn't have to do it again. But we will.
 
Let me be crystal clear: the staff that I stood shoulder to shoulder with on the picket lines make me feel more proud to belong to the London Ambulance Service than ever.
 
The EMT should stand next to them next time and really understand their feelings, fears and worries.
 
In spite of the provocation of government and management to undermine the strike, our members loyally stuck to our agreement and adhered to UNISON's 'life and limb' instructions to help, in difficult circumstances, to keep Londoners safe.
 
At 11.00 on the dot UNISON staff returned to work. 
 
Discipline and professionalism.
No army can defeat that!
 
Now may be the time to ditch the Listening Into Action (nicknamed 'Missing In Action' by most staff) ditch focus groups, and send the EMT to workplaces to meet and talk to staff.

By Eric Roberts