Plaid Cymru challenges minister over 3% final pay offer to health workers
Plaid Cymru is disputing claims made by Health Minister Eluned Morgan that a 3% pay increase to NHS staff is the most the Welsh Government can afford.
The minister made the assertion in a written statement detailing the government’s final offer to health workers who have been striking over pay and conditions.
In the statement, the minister wrote that the offer tabled following negotiations with the trade unions, “is the maximum we can afford to make for 22/23 pay” and warned that no more money was available if the deal is rejected.
The offer, which the unions are putting to their members, comprises an additional 3%, of which 1.5% is consolidated and 1.5% is non-consolidated so will be in pay packets year-on-year, on top of the Pay Review Body recommendations, and will be backdated to April 2022.
If the UK Government make an increased offer to NHS staff in England which results in a Barnett consequential coming to Wales, the minister has also committed to making a further pay offer to staff in NHS Wales, subject to discussions with the Trade Unions.
‘Lacking the will’
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price has accused the Welsh Government of “lacking the will” to invest in nurses and says a pay offer of 8% is possible using existing reserves and unallocated funding.
Mr Price says that information obtained from the Finance Minister proves that Welsh Government has sufficient money to offer a pay increase which is more than 3% above what is currently on the table.
The current offer from the government provides around 4.8% uplift on average for NHS staff.
To arrive at an 8% initial offer would require an extra £176m in the current financial year.
Plaid Cymru says that the money could come from a combination of the £152.3m of currently unallocated funding in the Welsh Government’s budget, a draw down from the Wales Reserve in addition to any projected under-spends in current departmental budgets.
Rhun ap Iorwerth, the party’s health and care spokesperson, said: “Plaid Cymru has already proved that a higher and fully consolidated pay offer to NHS workers is possible for the 22/23 financial year, using existing reserves and unallocated funding.
“It is therefore disingenuous to suggest that no more than the current 6% offer can be afforded, particularly when taking into account the powers that the Welsh Government holds, including taxation.
“Vacancies, sickness rates and leaving rates are all up – I cannot stress the importance of paying our staff what they deserve. By paying our workers fairly, Welsh Government will show they are truly committed to investing in the workforce, and in turn, the future of our health service.”
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