RCN Wales has lodged a formal trade dispute with the Welsh Government over its 3% pay award for nursing staff.
The director of the organisation, Helen Whyley, warned that if the Welsh Government does not open pay negotiations, an indicative ballot will be launched asking the membership whether they would be willing to take industrial action.
The move comes after the Welsh Government announced the 2021/22 wage boost for NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts ‘without engaging in further discussions,’ the RCN said.
Ms Whyley also noted that 93.9% of eligible RCN members in Wales called the pay rise ‘unacceptable’, in response to a consultation that ran between mid-August and mid-September.
She continued: ‘Safe and effective care for patients must be a priority for the Welsh Government. Despite the First Minister announcing £991m of extra funding available for health care this year, none of it has been earmarked for nurses’ pay.’
‘For the past 18 months nursing staff have gone above and beyond in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic but now they feel undervalued, disenfranchised and angry.’
The pay deal for Wales is in line with the 3% recommendation from the NHS Pay Review Body, which England also followed. However, the RCN has been campaigning for a 12.5% pay rise.
RCN Wales Board Chair Richard Jones MBE added: ‘We do not wish to take steps towards industrial action, but the anger and frustration of our members is clear.
‘Nursing staff deserve a fair pay rise, and the Welsh Government must strive to meet this very reasonable ask, refusing to negotiate is not in anyone’s interest.’
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘We have followed the recommendations from the independent NHS pay review body and the doctors and dentist review body to award all NHS staff a 3% pay rise.
‘This recommendation was based on evidence submitted by all parties including trade unions. We hope NHS workers understand how much we value their work and appreciate everything they have done.’