Nurses consider industrial action over ‘unacceptable’ 3% pay increase
The Royal College of Nurses is to ballot its members on industrial action after rejecting a 3% pay rise offered by the Welsh Government.
The nurses’ trade union has lodged a formal dispute with the government over the increase, which was rejected by 94% of members.
Health minister Eluned Morgan announced the rise in July and said at the time it “recognises the dedication and commitment” of NHS staff.
Confirming the ballot on industrial action, RCN Wales Director Helen Whyley said: “Safe and effective care for patients must be a priority for the Welsh Government.
“Despite the First Minister announcing £991m of extra funding available for healthcare this year, none of it has been earmarked for nurses’ pay. Patients are waiting for treatment and care and nursing staff are needed to deliver that.
“There are over 1700 vacancies for registered nurses in NHS Wales and the Welsh Government needs to address this. For the past 18 months nursing staff have gone above and beyond in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic but now they feel undervalued, disenfranchised and angry.
“That’s why 94% voted that a 3% pay rise is totally unacceptable.”
RCN Wales Board Chair Richard Jones MBE added: “We do not wish to take steps towards industrial action, but the anger and frustration of our members is clear. Nursing staff deserve a fair pay rise, and the Welsh Government must strive to meet this very reasonable ask, refusing to negotiate is not in anyone’s interest.”
Responding to the possibility of industrial action, Plaid Cymru backed the nurses and called for all NHS staff to get a real terms pay rise.
Plaid’s Spokesperson for Health and Care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “Plaid Cymru supports nurses and their call for fair play. Welsh Government must now come to the table with an offer that recognises the need to reward them properly for their work.”
“Healthcare workers have made huge sacrifices throughout the pandemic, putting themselves in harm’s way to protect patients and even spending days if not weeks away from their families in order to carry out their work.
“The 3 per cent pay rise is a real-terms decrease in pay, since it doesn’t even match inflation. If Welsh Government wants to show their gratitude to the NHS staff in Wales, they must guarantee fair pay for all healthcare workers, they must provide meaningful support to make this an attractive career option for more people, and they must put in place a robust retention strategy.”
“NHS staff deserve a real-terms pay rise above that proposed by the NHS pay review body. Anything less will fall short of giving some of our most critical workers the recognition they have earned during what will have been some of the toughest months of their professional lives.”