Union to ballot health workers in Wales over strike action following “derisory pay award”
A trade union says it has written to the Welsh government today confirming it will ballot health workers for strike action over their “derisory pay award”.
The NHS Wales pay award, implemented earlier this month, was below inflation for all staff, including the lowest paid.
At a time of rocketing costs, most staff received a little over £100 per month in their pay packet, an around £1,400 increase to their salaries.
Unison said the increase fell “way short of the inflation-busting increase health unions said was needed to retain staff.”
The announcement of the ballot, which opens on Thursday 27 October, follows a Unison survey of public sector workers across Wales which revealed people were pawning possessions to cope with the cost-of-living crisis. More than one in six said they had gone without meals.
Unison Cymru head of health, Hugh McDyer, said: “Health workers in Wales are taking extreme measures as costs spiral but their pay falls behind. Some are re-mortgaging their homes and living off bread and soup to survive and this will only get worse as we go into winter.
“Many health staff have decided industrial action is the only way to convince decision-makers that putting pay right is absolutely critical to preventing the NHS from a terminal decline.”
Unison Cymru regional secretary, Dominic MacAskill, said: “Workers have had enough. Nurses, paramedics, health care assistants, cleaners and porters are saying the service is on its knees.
“Taking strike action is the only option our members have to improve it.
“When public sector employees take strike action, it’s because they have been left with no alternative. It’s a decision they don’t take lightly because they lose pay.
“This ballot is about dedicated and experienced workers, taking a stand about the future of the public services they provide.”
The Unison move follows results of a consultative ballot in which Unite’s NHS Wales members voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in what the union says is “an emphatic rejection” of the recently imposed pay deal.
70 per cent of Unite NHS Wales members voted for strike action with 89 per cent voting for action short of a strike.
Turnout in this ballot exceeded that of all previous ballots, which Unite say illustrates the immense strength of feeling among NHS Wales workers.
Unite regional secretary Peter Hughes said: “Our NHS Wales members have sent a strong message; they have absolutely had enough.”
“Year on year they work harder, in ever-tougher circumstances, while their pay is eroded.”
“This is an emphatic rejection of a pay deal that simply fails to keep pace with rocketing living costs.”
“The UK and Welsh governments must act.”
“Fund a fair pay increase that recognises the value of our Welsh NHS workers because Unite will be backing our members all the way in their fight for a decent wage.”
“Following years of below inflation pay increases for NHS Wales workers, there is also the additional cost of forthcoming pension contribution increases for some staff.”
Unite’s ballot is due to start in mid-October and conclude mid-November.
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