Nurses in Wales to vote on new Welsh government pay offer
An improved pay agreement will be presented to NHS employees following discussions with unions.
The deal includes a one-off 3% payment, backdated to last year, and a 5% offer from the start of this month.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Wales will now ask its members to vote on whether to accept or reject the deal in an online consultation that runs from 24 April to 10 May.
The pay offer, which also includes a consolidated rise for 2023/24, is a significant improvement on what was previously proposed by the Welsh government. However, the offer falls short of inflation, which has left some members feeling dissatisfied.
Helen Whyley, RCN Wales Director, said: “The Welsh government returned to negotiations because of the momentous pressure placed upon them by nursing staff in NHS Wales. Our members took the difficult decision to go on strike, and their resolve and determination have led to the Welsh government showing that it was able to find the funds to improve its offer.”
Whyley added: “However, our members have suffered pay freezes and real terms pay cuts over the last 10 years that have left their pay woefully short compared to where it should be. Our priority is to ensure that restoration of pay remains at the forefront of the agenda for the Welsh government.”
Unite Union said the pay offer “falls short of inflation and therefore does not address the concerns our members have regarding the cost of living. However the offer is a significant improvement on what was previously proposed by Welsh Government.”
“Unite NHS members have taken more industrial action than any other union this year in Wales. The improvement in the pay offer would not have been forthcoming without the campaign of industrial action undertaken by our NHS Wales members. The solidarity they have shown throughout this difficult period has been inspirational.”
The pay deal has been described as a significant enhancement beyond the Pay Review Body (PRB) recommendations and the accepted 2022-23 enhanced offer. If the offer is accepted, Welsh NHS staff will have received an average award of over 15.7% (of which 11.2% is consolidated into pay permanently) over two years, 2022-23 and 2023-24.
The package means that those on the bottom of Band 5, including nurses and other health care professionals starting their careers in NHS Wales, will have received a total pay increase of over 17% (of which over 12% is consolidated) for the financial years 2022-23 and 2023-24. This sees their starting salary at £28,834.
The lowest-paid NHS staff will have received a pay increase of over 26% (of which over 20% is consolidated) over 2022-23 and 2023-24. This also means that the lowest-paid workers will be above the real living wage rate from 1 April 2023, with a starting salary of £22,720, which equates to an hourly rate of £11.39.
The Welsh government has acknowledged that the negotiations have been tough and that the pay deal has required the use of reserves and underspends from across government to put the offer together.
Despite the financial challenges, the government hopes that all trade unions will accept the offer to end industrial action on pay in NHS Wales.
The union representatives will be balloting members on an individual basis, and while the majority of trade unions will be recommending accepting the offer, the RCN has decided to put the offer to members without a voting recommendation.
Unite and the RCN are not making a recommendation on how its members should vote, stating that it is important for members to make the final decision.
Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation Darren Hughes said:
“NHS leaders will welcome the news of a further enhanced pay offer from Welsh Government to Agenda for Change staff in Wales.
“Most importantly, we acknowledge the efforts by the Welsh Government and trade unions to maintain an open dialogue, pause strike action and work in social partnership to find a resolution to the dispute.
“There’s no doubt this package has been negotiated against a backdrop of intense system pressures but also at an extremely challenging time for public finances.
“Above all else, we hope this can bring an end to the disruption for staff, services and patients so the NHS can continue to provide care to the people of Wales.”
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