Health workers call off planned strikes in Wales
Planned strikes next week by nurses, ambulance workers and other health staff in Wales have been called off after a new pay offer from the Welsh government.
The GMB was due to hold a strike on Monday, while members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) were set to walk out on Monday and Tuesday.
The two unions announced that action will be suspended, although their members in England will go ahead with strikes on the same days.
A strike by physiotherapists in Wales on Tuesday has also been called off.
The RCN said the Prime Minister must now urgently negotiate with nurses in England after the Welsh government joined Scotland in formally reopening the NHS pay award for the current financial year.
Negotiations with unions resulted in a new pay offer from the Welsh government for 2022/23 of an additional 3% increase, the unions said.
The RCN said it will put the new offer to a vote of its members within days.
A statement said: “The announcement leaves Westminster as the only government refusing to reconsider the impact of current NHS pay levels and rejecting negotiations that would avert strike action.”
The RCN will escalate its strike action in England next week, with action at 73 NHS trusts compared to 44 in December and 55 in January.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “If the other governments can negotiate and find more money for this year, the Prime Minister can do the same.
“Rishi Sunak has no place left to hide. His unwillingness to help nursing is being exposed as a personal choice, not an economic necessity.
“Again, we are making good on our commitment to cancel strikes when ministers negotiate and make pay offers to our members. First in Scotland and now in Wales too.
“If the Prime Minister decides to leave England’s nurses as the lowest paid in the UK, he must expect this strike to continue.
“He can still turn things around before Monday – start talking seriously and the strikes are off.”
GMB official Nathan Holman said: “After intense negotiations, GMB has agreed to suspend strike action while further talks take place.
“We recognise that the Welsh government and Welsh Ambulance have made concessions and, through social partnership, we appreciate the frank and open dialogue with them over the last few months.
“This has only been made possible because the Welsh government has been prepared to talk about pay – a lesson for those in charge on the other side of the Severn Bridge.
“We are a member-led union, ultimately they will decide.”
A Welsh government spokesperson said: “Following continued discussions over the last week, we are pleased to announce that an enhanced pay offer has been made to our health trade unions.”
Leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price MS said: “This improved pay offer is a step in the right direction by the Welsh Government which has repeatedly denied that it had any extra money.
“But a consolidated pay rise of 6% is well below inflation and below the Scottish Government’s pay offer.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:“ It’s a welcome development to see these strikes postponed and hopefully with continued negotiations they can be halted altogether, but we will have to await the outcome of further negotiations.
“We have always argued that our healthcare staff need to be valued, not just with moral support but making sure they are valued financially.”
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It is heartening to see some cooperation and common sense prevail here in Wales. The idea that the people and government should be in conflict after the last three years we have suffered together is absurd and dangerous for the many thousands in need of medical care in Wales. I salute both parties, the NHS and the Senedd…