I Am Frontline You Are Frontline We are Frontline.

We all work within a 24 hour, 365 day a year Emergency Service. Whatever job we do, wherever our workplace is, whether we wear a uniform or not, we all work towards delivering patient care.

We are all cogs in the wheel that keeps the London Ambulance Service moving and serving the people of London. We are all frontline!

Of course, we all do different jobs, with different skills and different grades, but each job depends on the others to form a whole and reach our aim.

The following story has been told many times (by me particularly!) and I am sorry to repeat it, but it does get to the heart of my point:

J.F.Kennedy was visiting Houston Space Centre in Texas at the time of the Moon landing preparations. On a visit to the toilet he met the janitor cleaning the floors. He asked the man what his job was and the reply came back “Mr President, I am helping to put a man on the Moon.”

A bit cheesy maybe, but an excellent example. A team is a team. Our Service is a Service made up of a team.

Don’t let the Coalition government undermine or confuse us with talk of ‘frontline and non frontline’.  Protecting frontline and abandoning non frontline!

There is no magical line separating the two.

We are heading towards some difficult times and I repeat LAS UNISON’s commitment to protect our members, our Union and our Service.

We are all frontline. Everybody counts!

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LAS UNISON sent a delegation to the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Rally and Lobby of Parliament last week (19th October 2010). This was to show our concerns over the NHS White Paper and also the damage to Public Services that the Comprehensive Spending Revue outcomes are forecast to do.

This is the start of a co-ordinated campaign by the Public Sector unions led by UNISON, which will build up to a National Demonstration in London on Saturday March 26th 2011.

However,  National Demonstrations, loved by some, constantly called for by others in the Unions, are not the be and end all. They are not the panacea to all our ills. We cannot walk in London one Saturday and then hope somebody else will take responsibility.

We have the responsibility. each and every one of us.

Day to day Union organisation, recruitment, discipline and unity are key to us within the London Ambulance Service to resist the worst effects of any cuts. That is what LAS UNISON do well.

Get a friend or colleague to join us. Each new member of UNISON is a new brick in the wall of our defence.

More information will be posted on the website and I will continue to send workplace stewards and contacts all the news and updates as they come in to me.

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South London Health Care Trust has confirmed this week that they are, after reviewing their initial decision, going ahead with awarding their Patient Transport Services contract, currently held by us, to Savoy Ventures Ltd.

Savoy Ventures Ltd are a private company.

The loss of this contract is not the fault of our Patient Transport staff. It is not the fault of the London Ambulance Service. Although it pains me to say it, neither is it the fault of Savoy Ventures Ltd.

The fault lies with a system that allows private companies to enter the National Health Service and bid to take over contracts.

By the very nature of things private ambulance companies will always be able to bid lower: and by the very nature of finance, Health Service Trusts will always be tempted to accept the lowest bid.

The difference in bids between a statutory ambulance service and a private ambulance company is nearly always the pay bill. Quite simply private companies pay less.

This is not a level playing field.

This will happen time and again unless the private companies working within the National Health Service are forced to pay Agenda for Change terms and conditions to all their workers, not just the few workers that transfer across on protected terms.

It is vital in the present political environment that LAS UNISON, with the help and support of the UNISON London Region, step up and continue to challenge these private companies. Through no fault of their own UNISON members are being trapped within a two-tier workforce.

The more that happens, the longer the unequal playing field is tipped in private companies favour.

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If you are reading this, work for the London Ambulance Service and are not yet a member of UNISON: Join Today!

We are stronger together.

Eric Roberts

Branch Secretary