Deadlock ends as RCN Wales members vote to accept pay offer
Welsh Government’s latest offer included improvements to flexible working and overtime payments, and RCN members voted 52% in favour
RCN Wales members’ dispute with the government over pay and working conditions has come to an end after the majority voted to accept the latest offer.
Members who voted in a consultative ballot between 31 July and 31 August voted 52% in favour of the offer, which included improvements to flexible working arrangements, overtime payments, proposals of a 36-hour working week and advanced rostering.
Pay was excluded from the ballot as the 2023-24 offer of 5% was accepted by unions under the NHS Wales Partnership Forum in May, despite RCN members rejecting it.
RCN says ‘our members’ perseverance has paid off’
RCN Wales director Helen Whyley said: ‘Your collective resolve and bravery to stand up for your patients and the future of the NHS led to repeated improved offers from the Welsh Government.
‘As a result of these improvements, the ballot outcome indicates that our members’ perseverance has paid off and they feel this offer goes some way to improving working conditions and the safety of patients.’
Union will ‘continue to hold the Welsh Government to account’
However, Ms Whyley warned that the chronic staff shortages and low morale that led to strike action are still ‘very real’.
She added: ‘We believe this result is only the beginning. RCN Wales will continue to hold the Welsh Government to account to implement their commitment of pay restoration to make up for the totality of pay freezes for many years, as well as better working conditions to ensure nursing is fit for purpose.’
Quick guide to the Wales pay dispute
RCN members rejected a 4% pay offer for 2022-23 and took historic strike action in December 2022.
The Welsh Government then offered an additional 3%, consisting of a 1.5% consolidated and 1.5% non-consolidated pay rise backdated to April 2022.
However, RCN members again rejected the offer despite a majority of health union members in the NHS Wales Trade Union Group accepting the deal.
In response to talks with unions, the government offered a number of non-pay improvements including an unsocial hours allowance, commitments to improve retention and a review of career progression.
A 5% consolidated pay increase was offered for 2023-24 but RCN members rejected the offer, prompting calls to reopen negotiations.
A one-off NHS recovery payment averaging 3% for all healthcare staff, including bank staff, was then offered for 2022-23 on top of the 7% already on the table.
RCN members voted down the deal and took to picket lines again on 6 and 7 June 2023.
However, the government stood firm on its pay deal and again made a series of non-pay related offers including improvements to flexible working arrangements.
The RCN Wales dispute over the 2022-23 and 2023-24 pay deal came to an end on 31 August after members accepted the offer.
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