Nurses working in the NHS in Wales are set to strike again after members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) rejected the Welsh Government’s latest pay offer.
RCN Wales has announced that strike action will take place on 6 and 7 June and 12 and 13 July unless ‘a resolution is found’.
A recent ballot of members on Agenda for Change contracts saw 53.21% of those who voted reject the government’s most recent offer, while 46.79% voted to accept.
In total, the offer for 2022/23 consists of a 1.5% consolidated increase and a 1.5% one-off payment – both of which have already been implemented – as well as a new and further one-off ‘recovery payment’ which, on average, equates to 3%.
Meanwhile, for 2023/24, the government had pledged a 5% consolidated increase, with effect from April 2023. There is also a list of non-pay elements, such as career progression and the implementation of a nurse retention plan on the table.
Helen Whyley, director of RCN Wales, said nurses ‘need a substantial offer from the Welsh Government’.
Ms Whyley said: ‘I have asked for pay talks to be opened immediately with the minister, so that our members do not need to return to picket lines.
‘Strike action is always a last resort, but we have been pushed here yet again. If talks aren’t forthcoming, we won’t hesitate to strike, with stronger strike action than we’ve seen before.’
NHS nurses in Wales previously took to the picket lines in December as part of the ongoing pay dispute.
While the RCN’s strike mandate for members in England expired at the start of May, RCN Wales is able to continue industrial action having secured a three-month extension until August 1.
RCN Wales said its new set of strike action would run for the duration of the day shift on each day and will include tighter derogations than in previous action.
Earlier this year, members of RCN Wales had also rejected a now implemented pay offer from the Welsh Government and has remained in dispute with ministers since. At the time, the RCN’s objection had been over-ruled by a majority of other unions accepting the deal.
In Wales, acceptance of pay offers is approved by all health unions collectively through the Wales Partnership Forum.
The results from other unions balloting members on the latest pay offer are yet to be released.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘While we recognise the strength of feeling among members, we are disappointed by the ballot outcome.
‘We are also disappointed by the announcement of further industrial action prior to hearing the outcome of other trade union ballots and agreeing a final collective position at the Wales Partnership Forum Business Committee.’