Wales’ Ambulance Strike Pay Talks Continue – Unite Leader



Wales' ambulance strike pay talks continue - Unite leader

The leader of the Unite union has said she is meeting Wales’ health minister on Sunday, on the eve of an ambulance service walkout in a row over pay.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said she hoped to “get to the deal that we need to give to our members to solve the dispute”.

Other unions agreed to suspend action after a new pay offer by Eluned Morgan.

Military personnel are being drafted in to help drive ambulances during Unite’s planned strike on Monday and Tuesday.

The Welsh Ambulance Service said services would be “much more limited” during the planned action, including affecting calls to the NHS Wales 111 help line.

Unite, which represents about 25% of all ambulance staff in Wales, said on Friday that members planned to strike unless a better deal was agreed over the weekend.

Ms Morgan has offered health unions an extra 3% on top of the £1,400 already promised.

Ms Graham said: “What we know – because we got all of our reps together when that offer was put on the table – is our members just won’t accept that.”

But the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and GMB union ambulance staff have put walkouts on hold to consider the deal.

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said the extra cash to cover the pay offer to NHS staff meant the Welsh government would have “more difficult choices” to make in future years.

She told BBC Politics Wales it was using £125m from its reserves – the maximum allowed – and the Welsh NHS would have to save £64m annually in order to fund the increased pay offer.

“My hope would’ve been that we could have used that financial asset [government reserves] in the next financial year and the year after, because we know that those are going to be even more difficult than this year,” she added.

Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh Conservatives’ Senedd leader, asked why the Welsh government did not “resolve this sooner so, ultimately, that you could’ve kept the hospitals going… and the disruption would’ve been minimised”.

Plaid Cymru Adam Price said the improved pay offer was “still substantially below the rate of inflation”.

“But it doesn’t really address what is at the core of the dispute – the fact that NHS staff have had a real terms pay cut for over a decade and more,” he said.

The Welsh government said: “We are pleased by the initial reception to the enhanced pay offer made to health trade unions, and we continue to engage with them on a number of non-pay commitments to enhance staff well-being.

“We again thank those that have participated in the negotiations for their positive engagement and goodwill”.

Nurses in England and ambulance staff in England and Wales have coordinated action on Monday in their ongoing row about pay and working conditions.

UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the action was “regrettable”, and “will undoubtedly have an impact on patients”.

Source – BBC News



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