Ambulance workers picket their station in south London. (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Ambulance workers’ strikes set for this week and next will pile more pressure on the Tories to reopen pay negotiations. The Unite and GMB unions were set to walk out in some parts of England and Wales on Friday and Monday respectively. Their action follows strikes by the Unison union last week.

In all unions, there is a strong sense of strikers “digging in” for a long fight. From a picket line in east London last week, one Unison striker told Socialist Worker that the unions must now start thinking of new tactics because the government shows no sign of moving.

“The Tories are hoping they can string this out until April, when the new pay year starts,” she said. “That means we have to get serious coordination between all the health unions

“It’s no good us in Unison being out on one day in one part of the country, the GMB out on another, and Unite on still another. All the unions have to coordinate to have an impact. And, I think all the health unions, including the nurses and the physios, should be out together as well.”

Pickets in north Yorkshire echoed that. “I think we need to build up our action and I think members want us to do more to hit the Tories,” said one striker. 

“Obviously, we still have to provide life and limb emergency cover. But we can strike for more days—say, two or three days together. We can strike more often, and we can strike alongside other unions too.

“Unions are also re-balloting areas of the country where the union didn’t meet the turnout threshold. So that should bring more people into action.”

The strikers are right. Coordinating the strikes and ramping up the action is the only way to force the Tories to back down.

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