Posted: Sun 8th Jan 2023

Plaid Cymru Leader attacks Welsh Government’s handling of health union pay negotiations

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Jan 8th, 2023

Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price has launched a scathing attack on the Welsh Government’s refusal to engage in pay negotiations with health unions.

Mr Price claims that by refusing to negotiate with health unions, the Labour Party is “turning its back on 100 years of its own history”.

Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation described the country’s health system as being “on a knife edge” in terms of its ability to cope with the demand on services. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board declared a critical incident last week as it said it was struggling to cope with the level of pressure in north Wales. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

Health officials in the region said high levels of flu, Covid and other respiratory viruses had contributed to the problems. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

Earlier this week, Labour leader Keir Starmer criticised the Conservatives for refusing to meet with the unions to negotiate NHS pay, saying “You have to go in the room, you have to look at the issues and compromise on both sides.”

However, the RCN have repeatedly criticised the Labour Government for taking the same approach in Wales.

They say they are “frustrated and angry about the lack of engagement from the Welsh Government to open discussions on a fair pay award for nursing staff”.

On Friday (6 January), the RCN accused the Welsh Government of using Westminster as a scapegoat in the pay dispute and urged Labour Ministers to “get in the room and solve this dispute”.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, after further Welsh ambulance workers’ strikes were announced on Friday, said that while the roots of the dispute may be in Westminster, but the Welsh government needed to move to improve its pay offer in order to avoid a prolonged dispute

Adam Price said: “Labour is justifiably fixated with Tory incompetence, but their own mismanagement of the Welsh NHS is in their blind spot.

Labour, under Keir Starmer’s watch have been quick to criticise Sunak’s government. “They broke the NHS” declared Keir Starmer, adding “it’s time for a Labour government.”

“It’s all too easy to assume that these criticisms apply just as equally in Wales as they do in England.

“And in many ways, they do. Underfunded, under-resourced and staff that are over-worked. The story in Wales is as familiar as it is in England.

“But there’s one important difference: the NHS in Wales is not run by the Tories, but by Labour. And it has been for 25 years.”

He added: “The decline of the NHS in Wales, where one in five people on a hospital waiting list, has happened on Welsh Labour’s watch.

“It’s not just the underfunding – for which all paths lead inevitably back to Westminster – it’s also the complete lack of investment in social care, and a lack of engagement with worker disputes.

“Because for all of the justified calls for the Tory UK Government to meet with Health Union leaders, the Labour Welsh Government which has equally avoided meaningful discussions to resolve the pay dispute.

“The Welsh Government should be doing what the Scottish government is doing under the leadership of the SNP.”

“The Scottish Government has managed to find money for an improved pay offer which has led to two of the health unions calling off strike action.”

“That’s real leadership, and there’s no reason why the Welsh government can’t use the powers that it has at its disposal to do likewise.”

“It’s deeply frustrating to see the response by the Welsh Labour government – they’re prepared to call out the Tories, yet they’re doing exactly the same here in Wales.”

“Time and time again Plaid Cymru has urged Welsh Government to look at all the levers at their disposal – taxation, reserves, reallocation to prioritise fair pay in both the NHS and social care.”

“The Labour party is actually turning its back on 100 years of its own history.”

“It was founded to be the voice for working people and the voice of the trade unions.”

“Yet it’s not prepared to listen to what the trade unions and workers’ representatives are saying to them in the health sector and in other sectors.”

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