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November date set for strike action over NHS pay in Wales

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Health workers in Wales are to go on strike in the long-running row over public sector pay.

Members of Unison will walk out from 8.30am to 12 noon on 10 November, followed by four days of industrial action short of a strike.

Nurses, occupational therapists, porters, paramedics, medical secretaries, cooks and healthcare assistants will be among those who will take action.

“We understand the complexities within the Welsh budget, but the workforce cannot be expected to continue to plug the financial gap in the Welsh NHS”

Dawn Bowden

It follows the results of a ballot, which were released on 20 October. Unison members voted “overwhelmingly” in support of action, with 77% of the 5,715 turnout agreeing to a strike. In addition, 90% voted in favour of action short of strike action in the ballot.

However, the union has not revealed the turnout in the ballot, which for a similar vote recently held in England was just 16%.

Unison said that although a one-off non-consolidated payment of £160 was offered to staff in Wales, it would not count towards pension entitlements or shift pay and will not occur in future years.

Health workers in England from a number of unions – including Unison, Unite, the GMB and the Royal College of Midwives – took action earlier this month in protest at the government’s controversial decision not to accept a recommended 1% pay rise for all NHS staff.

Dawn Bowden, Unison’s head of health, said: “We understand the complexities within the Welsh budget, but the workforce cannot be expected to continue to plug the financial gap in the Welsh NHS.

“This is becoming increasingly difficult for our members to swallow given the unnecessary and politically driven battering that the Welsh health workers and services are receiving at a UK level,” she said.

“We will work to ensure that there is minimum impact for patients and all NHS Wales employers have been notified of our intention to strike,” she added.

“Strike action is always a last resort, so we will continue our discussions with the employers and the Welsh government and urge them to put a revised offer forward that is worthy of consulting our members on,” said Ms Bowden.

Further action on health workers’ pay has not been ruled out by unions representing staff ranging from midwives and nurses to radiographers and ambulance crews.

Staff at high security psychiatric hospitals went on strike on Friday over the pay row, while firefighters in England will walk out for four days from Friday evening in a separate dispute with the government over pensions.

 

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