Planned strikes by nurses, ambulance workers and health staff in Wales suspended

Planned strikes next week by nurses, ambulance workers and other health staff in Wales have been called off after a new pay offer from the Welsh government.

The GMB was due to hold a strike on Monday, while members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) were set to walk out on Monday and Tuesday.

The two unions announced that action will be suspended, although their members in England will go ahead with strikes on the same days.

A strike by physiotherapists in Wales on Tuesday has also been called off.

The RCN said the Prime Minister must now urgently negotiate with nurses in England after the Welsh government joined Scotland in formally reopening the NHS pay award for the current financial year.

Negotiations with unions resulted in a new pay offer from the Welsh government for 2022/23 of an additional 3% increase, the unions said.

The RCN said it will put the new offer to a vote of its members within days.

A statement said: “The announcement leaves Westminster as the only government refusing to reconsider the impact of current NHS pay levels and rejecting negotiations that would avert strike action.”

The RCN will escalate its strike action in England next week, with action at 73 NHS trusts compared to 44 in December and 55 in January.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen (pictured) said: “If the other governments can negotiate and find more money for this year, the Prime Minister can do the same.

“Rishi Sunak has no place left to hide. His unwillingness to help nursing is being exposed as a personal choice, not an economic necessity.

“Again, we are making good on our commitment to cancel strikes when ministers negotiate and make pay offers to our members. First in Scotland and now in Wales too.

“If the Prime Minister decides to leave England’s nurses as the lowest paid in the UK, he must expect this strike to continue.

“He can still turn things around before Monday – start talking seriously and the strikes are off.”

GMB official Nathan Holman said: “After intense negotiations, GMB has agreed to suspend strike action while further talks take place.

“We recognise that the Welsh government and Welsh Ambulance have made concessions and, through social partnership, we appreciate the frank and open dialogue with them over the last few months.

“This has only been made possible because the Welsh government has been prepared to talk about pay – a lesson for those in charge on the other side of the Severn Bridge.

“We are a member-led union, ultimately they will decide.”

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “Following continued discussions over the last week, we are pleased to announce that an enhanced pay offer has been made to our health trade unions.”

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said a strike by its members across Wales will not go ahead on Monday and it is suspending action short of a strike planned for February 7-14 .

The RCM said it will now be moving quickly to consult its midwife and maternity support worker members on the new offer, which followed talks with the Welsh Government yesterday and today.

Further talks are planned to address issues around staffing shortages, working conditions and pressures on services.

Julie Richards, RCM director for Wales, said: “This has come about because of the determination of our members to make their voices heard and their readiness to take action. It brought the Welsh Government to the table and led to this offer.

“It is important that our members now have their say and the decision to accept or reject this offer lies with them.

“We are pausing this action in good faith so that other issues – such as pressures on staff and working conditions – can also be addressed.

“Make no mistake though, we still have a very strong mandate for industrial action and will not hesitate to take it if our members reject the offer, or if planned talks do not move forward as promised.”

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