The ambulance dispute - Anarchist Communist Federation

Leaflet produced in response to a 1989 dispute amongst National Health Service ambulance workers, who were trying to prevent a restructuring of the ambulance service.

Submitted by Spassmaschine on July 26, 2009

Despite the government continually proclaiming its non-intervention in trade disputes, with the Ambulance dispute, we once again have a fight against the government’s unofficial pay policy. BR, LRT, Nurses have all been in dispute over the same issue. The government’s attacks have been carefully planned so that workers fightback has been kept divided. It is always vital that workers in struggle try to link up directly with other workers. Nowhere is this more true than in the ambulance service, where strike action does not directly affect profits but could hurt ordinary people. Ambulance staff have a great deal of sympathy. Their cause is thought to be just. They should take this sympathy and turn it in to action by going in groups directly to other workers and asking them to strike for their cause. An efficient ambulance service is obviously in all workers interests. There are many other groups who are in dispute at present, such as postal workers, car workers, nurses and other NHS staff. Ambulance crews should go directly to these groups and others and ask them to strike now. Where possible joint demands should be raised (such as 20% with no strings), so that the struggles of different workers against the same enemy is united.

In virtually every strike, the unions try to keep different groups of workers divided one from another (e.g. the TGWU kept the dockers and busworkers strikes apart). On the rare occasions that the unions do agree to put forward calls for united action this is only because workers have already cut across union divisions, and the bureaucrats are just trying not to be left behind. This is what happened with the recent rail strikes where the unions first of all opposed all strike action. Then they made official the wildcat strikes that happened anyway. Then eventually they called joint BR and LRT strikes, again because this was already happening without them. Rather then relying on the unions to organise the struggle, workers should control the fight themselves through mass meetings and elected (and recallable) struggle committees.

It is by self-organisation and by spreading the strikes that workers are able to force their interests onto the ruling class and its state. Not just in terms of pay but in the general quality of life (e.g. health, environment). It is the first step to the creation of a world where people directly control their society and where profits and governments don’t get a look in.

Anarchist Communist Federation, M4 Corridor Group

Taken from the Antagonism website.