UNISON to hold talks with Welsh government on future of pay and conditions for health workers in Wales

UNISON health workers outside Morriston Hospital in Swansea

Wales’ largest public sector union will meet with the Welsh government this week for key talks on the future of pay and conditions for health workers in Wales.

UNISON Cymru/Wales, which represents tens of thousands of NHS staff in Wales, will meet with Welsh government health minister Eluned Morgan on Thursday (12/1/23).

The meeting follows a letter from the Welsh government to all health unions in Wales suggesting the possibility of a one-off payment for health workers, potential solutions to issues surrounding agency staff and restoring some level of confidence in the pay review body that sets the pay award for health workers and has failed to deliver on restoring pay levels over the years.

A major ballot of health workers over industrial action by UNISON in November 2022 saw support from more than 90% of those who responded.

Industrial action by postal workers and draconian anti-trade union laws meant UNISON did not reach the threshold for strike action in Wales but, the union is now re-balloting workers in the Welsh Ambulance Service as low pay and poor working conditions continue to take their toll.

In 2022 health workers in Wales were offered a £1,400 pay award although this is a real-terms pay cut for the majority of staff.

Dawn Ward, chair of the UNISON Cymru/Wales health committee, said: “Health workers in Wales are at breaking point with unprecedented demand on the NHS combined with a pay packet that does not come close to coping with the sky-rocketing cost-of-living crisis.

“We need an immediate solution from Welsh government to tackle the ever-worsening issues of pay and conditions for the many thousands of health workers UNISON represents across Wales.”

Hugh McDyer, head of health for UNISON Cymru/Wales, said: “UNISON is the largest health union in Wales, and we welcome the re-opening of talks with Welsh government.

“However, this is unlikely to prevent industrial action in the future or halt our re-balloting of ambulance workers in Wales which began on Friday January 6.

“Real solutions can only be reached in negotiations with the UK government in Westminster.

“The Welsh government has limited scope and we need to see the UK government having serious discussions not just about pay and conditions for health workers in the future but about the here and now.”