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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 11:10 GMT
Ambulance pay row action halted
Paramedics and ambulance technicians call off their industrial action
Ambulance workers have called off an overtime ban after agreeing a short-term solution to a dispute over pay during meal breaks.

North East Ambulance Service Trust (NEAS) staff were offered a rise of up to 1,800 to be on call during breaks.

Union Unison rejected the offer and staff were due to take industrial action on Monday.

But the move has now been called off after staff agreed to have uninterrupted, unpaid meal breaks.

A union spokesman said the agreement was a short-term solution and members still hoped that they would be offered more money to answer emergency calls during their meal breaks.

But a spokesman for the NEAS said the offer would not be bettered although managers were still willing to hold further talks to resolve the dispute.

'Harmful effect'

Dave Armstrong, Unison regional officer, said: "We are pleased that the trust has withdrawn its unilaterally imposed policy, and welcome a joint approach on seeking a national solution for ambulance crews' meal breaks which is appropriate to an emergency service."

In November, the ambulance trust introduced a 20 payment as an interim measure for crews who volunteered to answer 999 calls during their meal breaks. That payment has now been dropped.

NEAS chief executive, Simon Featherstone, said: "Patient care has always been my top priority and lives are always at risk in the ambulance service which is why it's important for us to have as many crews available as possible.

"This industrial action by Unison would have had a harmful effect on patient care and I couldn't allow that to happen. I have offered the unions everything that I can offer and it has all been rejected."

Talks to avert ambulance action
24 Jan 06 |  England
Action threat over ambulance row
13 Jan 06 |  England

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