Friday, September 19, 2008

Federation of Ambulance Personnel - FAP

Federation of Ambulance Personnel

The Federation of Ambulance Personnel (FAP) was a union formed to cater for Ambulance staff then working for local authorities.
Unlike many other unions formed to represent ambulance staff FAP was keen to safeguard the right to take industrial action. FAP actually lead the way on strikes amongst ambulance staff in pursuit of better pay and recognition. FAP meet stiff opposition from NUPE who opposed ambulan
ce staff being transferred to the NHS.

The Federation of Ambulance Personnel finally joined COHSE in the late 1970's and its General secretary Ernie Brook became an officer in COHSE.
In 1969 FAP claimed a membership of 600 amongst the Greater London Council's 2,000 ambulance staff. On the 27th August 1969 they took industrial action in 34 stations to secure recognition of FAP by the GLC Bob Salmon was General Secretary, Richard Harmer London regional Secretary and Keith Best liaison officer in Scotland of FAP.

Richard Harmer London Regional Secretary stated in the Times 28th August 1969 "Up to now we have been keeping our consciences clear while making ou
r protest"..."If the GLC sent home men who were voluntarily operating emergency services ambulance stations would close and life could be most certainly endangered"

Alan Fisher NUPE General Secretary stated that their action was "a deliberate and desperate attempt by a minority group to wreck the established negotiating machinery"

In 1973 FAP took part in industrial action over pay, and as part of COHSE in 1979 , 1980 and 1989-1990 led by COHSE ambulance activists such as the late great Bill Dunn of Hanwell, West London who always fought for the maintenance of "Emergency Cover" during industrial action.

FAP's union journal was called "Knight of the road"

Breakaway, often no strike, ambulance unions have always been problematic in the NHS the biggest being the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel (APAP) formed in the 1980's allegedly to promote professionalism but who were famously duped into agreeing an inferior pay deal with the Conservative government 1989-1990 Ambulance dispute. A position it never recovered from.
Another breakaway union was the Ambulance Services Union (ASU) was formed in Liverpool in the late 1999 but in 2008 joined the GMB general union.

All attempts to form separate Ambulance unions failed because they could never secure a majority and the resources required to truly represent ambulance staff legally and professionally as well as skilled negotiators requires immense resources only available from a general union.

COHSE London Ambulance Service branch (699) established November 1964
Branch Chairman Bert Conaway, 10 Silver Walk, Rotherhithe (ex docker for 15 years) Ted King (Secretary) 16 St Stephen's, Bow (ex bus driver) both worked at West Smithfield Ambulance Station (known as Whisky Station - from their radio call signal) since 1962.
First COHSE LAS branch meeting held at Hop Pole Pub, Gambia Street, London S1 on 17th December 1964 (with 80 members)

Eric Roberts (ex NUPE) is now Branch Secretary of the powerful UNISON London Ambulance Service Branch