Ambulance workers say they feel “demonized” by the government.

Striking ambulance workers said they felt “demonized” by the government’s attempts to portray them as “careless about safety standards”.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the GMB union called on the government to “talk to us and stop attacking us”.

It comes after Mr Sunak called the widespread industrial action “appalling” as the government submitted the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill to Parliament, which would set minimum service levels for health, fire safety, education, transport, nuclear power plant decommissioning and border security services.

He told the House of Commons on Wednesday: “What’s shocking is that at the moment people don’t know if they’re getting the treatment they need by calling 999.”

In a letter to Mr Sunak on behalf of the GMB Ambulance Committee, Steven Rice accused ministers of trying to “repeal our right to strike”.

“We feel utterly betrayed by the way your government has singled out ambulance workers as part of a crude attempt to eliminate our right to strike,” he wrote.

“You and your ministers should be ashamed of how you have tried to portray us as indifferent to safety standards – nothing could be further from the truth.

“We want a constructive relationship with the government – to talk about pay and seriously improve conditions across the ambulance service. But you’re letting us and our fellow ambulances demonize.”

Downing St told the BBC the Health Secretary is open to talks with unions and has accepted the recommendation of the Independent Pay Review Body to give at least a £1,400 pay rise to one million NHS workers this year.

A spokesman added: “However, we must ensure the safety of the public, which is why we are introducing minimum standards of service and safety in a number of sectors to ensure lives and livelihoods are not lost.”

On Friday, Mr Sunak said he hoped to find “a way of breaking the deadlock” with unions to stave off further industrial action.

During a trip to Scotland, he told TV channels: “I think that when there are strikes it’s important that we keep a strong dialogue with unions, so the government has invited all union leaders to these discussions.

“Discussions are ongoing and hopefully we can find a way.” Ambulance workers say they feel “demonized” by the government.

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