NHS strikes: Workers in Wales offered one-off payment from Welsh Government to help resolve dispute
Healthcare workers in Wales have been offered a one-off payment as part of a bid to avoid more strike action.
Speaking to BBC Radio Wales on Sunday (8 January), First Minister Mark Drakeford said the offer was part of a package of measures the Welsh Government had put to trade unions in a letter on Friday.
It comes after the announcement that Welsh Ambulance Service workers will stage more walkouts on January 19 and 23.
Doctors in Wales are also considering industrial action and members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have already taken part in two days of strikes in December.
Mr Drakeford said he hoped the single payment, which would be paid this current financial year, and other details set out in the letter would form a basis for negotiation talks in the coming days.
In the interview the First Minister explained that work had taken place over Christmas "to free up money" from planned spending, to allow the Welsh Government to offer this single payment.
He added: "What we cannot do, we just simply do not have the money to do, is raise this year’s offer in a way that gets consolidated in people’s pay packets and goes on having to be paid for for future years."
Doctors, consultants, GPs and nurses in Wales have been offered a pay increase of between 4% and 5.5%, while other NHS workers would get an average of 7.5%.
Trade unions argue that with the rate of inflation this amounts to a real term cut, the RCN for instance want to see a 19% pay increase.
Mr Drakeford said trade unions had been invited to talks with government in the coming week.
Following the announcement on Friday (6 January) of further strikes in the Welsh Ambulance Service, the Welsh Government said it cannot offer a better deal without more funding.
A spokesperson said: “We understand and respect the strength of feeling among Unite members at the Wales Ambulance Service which have led to this strike action.
“Following the ballot result, we will work with the ambulance service and health boards on their contingency plans. The public should be assured that arrangements will be made with unions to ensure there will always be a safe level of staffing, with life-saving and life-maintaining care being provided during any industrial action.”
The British Medical Association Cymru has also said its doctors are considering strike action for the first time.
Around two-thirds of hospital doctors surveyed by the union in December said they would be willing to take some form of industrial action, including strikes, over their current pay and conditions.