Summer strikes paused as fresh talks agreed - but pay off the table
July strikes have been paused as Welsh Government agrees to discuss the non-pay elements of the current pay deal
Planned strike action for nurses in Wales has been called off after the Welsh Government agreed to fresh talks with the RCN over non-pay elements of the award.
July strike days will not go ahead
Walkouts scheduled for 12 and 13 July have been paused while the union and government discuss the non-pay parts of the award announced last month, including non-sociable hours allowances and flexible working. Further discussions on pay itself will not be on the table.
The upcoming RCN Wales statutory ballot for a further six months of industrial action, due to open on 3 July, will also be put on hold.
The decision follows strike action by nurses on 6 and 7 June after members rejected the ‘last and final’ pay offer of 5% for 2023-24.
RCN Wales director Helen Whyley said: ‘Our strike action in June has clearly been effective as the Welsh Government has listened to RCN members voices about issues facing nursing in Wales and have reached out to RCN Wales for official discussions on non-pay elements of working conditions.’
Talks will address concerns over patient safety
The revised pay package was implemented by the Welsh Government after the majority of other health unions in the Welsh Partnership Forum voted to accept the deal.
RCN Wales says it is looking for the government to commit to improving the working lives of the nursing workforce and to seriously address concerns about patient safety and the future of the nursing profession.
Ms Whyley added: ‘Industrial action continues to be a last resort for nursing staff and I have heard their stories of the personal sacrifice they make every day fighting for safe care for their patients that pushed them to vote for strike action. The pressure put on the Welsh Government by our members has been key to these talks commencing.’
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘We are pleased the RCN and the Society of Radiographers have suspended further action and ballots to enable talks to explore strengthening the non-pay elements of the pay offer, which has been collectively agreed by the Wales Partnership Forum.’
Pathway to the pay offer for NHS in Wales
The 5% deal was the final of a series of pay offers to staff on Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts since the NHS Pay Review Body’s original 4% recommendation last year. They were initially offered a revised 3% pay rise on top of the 4% on the table. Half of the 3% was consolidated and the remaining 1.5% was a one-off payment.
But RCN Wales members who took part in the ballot rejected it by 53.2% to 46.7%, prompting the Welsh Government to reopen talks despite the majority of combined health union members in the NHS Wales Trade Union Group accepting the deal.
After several weeks of negotiations, the government offered a 5% consolidated increase for 2023-24, to take effect from April 2023, alongside a new, one-off ‘NHS recovery payment’ averaging 3% for all healthcare staff, including bank staff, for 2022-23.
In other news