Yorkshire ambulance service bosses derecognised the Unite union today after it warned patients will be endangered by the "deskilling" of front-line staff.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust is replacing some highly skilled paramedics with less-qualified ambulance assistants in a bid to cut costs by £46 million.
The plan means demotion and downgrading of 300 ambulance staff who are members of Unite or public service union Unison.
Unite has warned the plans put patients at risk and is publicly campaigning against it.
Management wrote to the union this week saying it no longer recognises the union - despite it having national NHS recognition.
Derecognition removes union rights to negotiation and consultation, and withdraws time off from shop stewards for union work.
Unite responded furiously to the decision and vowed to resist derecognition.
"They have derecognised Unite, as the trade union representing paramedics and other ambulance staff, for raising concerns about the proposed shake-up in ambulance services," the union's head of health Rachael Maskell said.
"It appears that managers have something to hide and don't want to engage with a legitimate trade union which has been speaking up on behalf of its ambulance staff members and the Yorkshire public."
She said management's attitude "smacks of bullying and gagging those who believe patients will be put at risk."
The trust is introducing "emergency care assistants" (ECAs) to work alongside highly-trained paramedics. The assistants receive only six weeks training, while a paramedic undergoes a two-year degree course.
Unite says managers are deploying unqualified staff to emergencies with, in some cases, other ECAs or unqualified assistant practitioners.
Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: "Management are seeking to silence opposition to these vicious cuts. It will not work.
"Unite will not sit idly by while this management bully staff into accepting a second-class service for the public of Yorkshire, putting lives at risk."
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