The RCN has announced that it will cancel planned nurses’ strike action in Wales after the Government reopened the NHS pay award for this current financial year.
While Welsh members of the RCN were set to join their English colleagues in the third wave of nurses’ strikes next Monday and Tuesday, English nurses’ will now strike alone following a new pay offer from the Government.
The new offer, which would give nurses an additional three per cent pay rise on top of the initial pay offer, will be put to a vote of RCN members within days according to the union.
RCN general secretary, Pat Cullen said that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak now has ‘nowhere to hide’ as England becomes the only nation to have not put off strike action with a new offer.
Ms Cullen said that Mr Sunak’s ‘unwillingness to help nursing is being exposed as a personal choice not an economic necessity’.
She added: ‘Again, we are making good on our commitment to cancel strikes when ministers negotiate and make pay offers to our members. First in Scotland and now in Wales too.
‘If the Prime Minister decides to leave England’s nurses as the lowest paid in the UK, he must expect this strike to continue. He can still turn things around before Monday – start talking seriously and the strikes are off.’
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) separately announced that action short of a strike planned in Wales for 7-14 February will be suspended following the pay offer.
Julie Richards, RCM director for Wales, said: “This has come about because of the determination of our members to make their voices heard and their readiness to take action. It brought the Welsh Government to the table and led to this offer.
This comes only weeks after RCN Wales rejected out of hand the Welsh Government’s offer of a one-time cash payment, telling the Government that they were not ‘prepared to discuss any further’ this line of negotiation.
Meanwhile, in Scotland the RCN put strike action following a round of negotiations in January that left the union with an offer of a 7.5% average uplift in wages. This followed multiple rounds of negotiations and counter offers.
Eluned Morgan, the Welsh health minister, said that: ‘Following continued discussions over the last week, we are pleased to announce that an enhanced pay offer has been made to our health trade unions.
‘We would like to thank those that have participated in the negotiations for their positive engagement and goodwill. We are awaiting a formal response from each of the individual trade unions.’
Ms Morgan also clarified that, while there currently was no offer from the Government in Westminster to avert the nurses’ strikes, any pay offer for English nurses would result in an improved offer in Wales.
Nurses in England are still expected to strike on 6 and 7 February unless further pay negotiations go ahead.