Kevin McAdam, Unite national officer with responsibility for health explained the union’s action:
“We advised our members to return to normal roles in response to the NIAS’s action in line with undertakings we had given.
“The trade unions know now the facts on the ground: that there was no major incident, rather there was an inability and unwillingness for management to effectively manage the strike.
“We are unhappy and disgusted by the NIAS cynically exploiting this part of the emergency cover understanding to thwart the industrial action. We had no choice but to respond as we did as our representatives were unable to get genuine emergency cover. After management have pulled a stunt like this, such cover could not have been guaranteed and could have led to the trust putting the public’s lives at risk.
“This is a demonstration yet again of the operational management failure to address the needs of the service when faced with difficulties. Our members spent two days working with managers to ensure emergency provision and indeed were working to ensure enough crews were available at sites when management unilaterally declared a major incident.
“The loser in this situation will be future industrial relations in the ambulance service. From here on we reserve the legal right to strike and NIAS have a statutory obligation to provide a service, nothing further needs accommodated”, Mr McAdam concluded.