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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 19:51 GMT 20:51 UK
Ambulance meal row ballot delayed
ambulance
Workers want to be paid if interrupted during meal breaks
A ballot to resolve a long-running ambulance pay dispute is to be re-run after vote papers went astray.

North East Ambulance Service workers were voting on whether to accept a new pay offer of 1,830 a year to respond to call-outs during their meal breaks.

But many Unison members complained they did not receive their papers and the ballot has been delayed to 18 November.

In the meantime, the Ambulance Trust said it would pay workers 20 every time they were disturbed during breaks.

Dave Armstrong, spokesman for Unison, said the union was happy to go along with the 20 payment as long as it was an interim measure.

Simon Featherstone, chief executive of the North East Ambulance Service, said: "I understand that Unison has experienced some difficultly over distribution of this ballot and I am concerned that this has caused a delay in reaching a solution.

Permanent solution

"I have asked that all crews are contacted at the start of their shift to check their availability to respond to emergency calls during their meal breaks if they are the nearest resource to an emergency.

"We will pay these crews 20 if they are disturbed from their meal break to respond.

"This is a temporary measure which I hope will allay the concerns of those who have not been able to respond up to now until we can agree a permanent solution."

Since June, North East Ambulance Service paramedics have received unpaid and undisturbed meal breaks.

Unison said that as a result there had been a number of incidents where crews nearest an emergency had not been contacted, but crews had been forced to attend from further away.

It wants staff to be paid for meal breaks and to be on standby.


SEE ALSO:
Ambulance breaks offer rejected
06 Oct 05 |  England
Talks restart in meal breaks row
24 Aug 05 |  England


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