Midwives in Wales to strike on same day as nurses over pay deal 'insult'

Midwives will provide “bank holiday cover” during the strike, the union has said. Credit: PA

Midwives in Wales are to stage an eight-hour strike on the same day that thousands of nurses are also due to go on strike.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said that its members in Wales, including midwives and maternity support workers, will stage a walk-out from 8am to 4pm on February 7 in an ongoing row over pay.

During the strike, midwives will provide “bank holiday cover” to ensure women in labour or those in need of emergency care still get the support they need, the union has said.

They will also be taking industrial action short of a strike by claiming payment for any overtime worked in the week following strike action, the union added.

Julie Richards, RCM director for Wales, said midwives and maternity support workers are "exhausted, fragile and simply at the limits of their endurance."

The action will coincide with strikes due to be staged by members of the Royal College of Nursing, who are due to walk out on February 6 and 7.

Twelve organisations in Wales will see nurses walk out alongside colleagues at 73 organisations in England.

Midwives in Wales will strike between 8am and 4pm on February 7. Credit: PA

The RCM said that it is in discussions with the Welsh Government, but so far has not received an offer that would halt any industrial action.

Julie Richards said: “Julie Richards, the RCM’s director for Wales, said: “There is a growing crisis in Welsh maternity services.

“We are losing midwives because they simply cannot sustain the incredible effort they are having to make to ensure services are safe.

“They have also seen a decade and more of pay freezes and pay stagnation watching their pay packets significantly shrink with real terms pay cuts.

“To offer them a pay deal well below half of the rate of inflation is simply an insult that does a massive disservice to our maternity staff.

“Our members have made the decision to take industrial action after a great deal of thought and very reluctantly because their first concern is for the women, babies, and families they care for.

“However, they have been corralled into a dead end by Government and see no other option than take a stand for what they know is right for them, and most importantly for women.

“Midwives and maternity support workers, along with their maternity colleagues are keeping maternity services afloat, but they can no longer bear that load.

“They are working long hours, often beyond those they are paid for and they are exhausted, fragile and simply at the limits of their endurance.

“This cannot go on because if it does, we will continue to lose staff the service can ill afford to.

“Now is the time for the Welsh Government to act on their concerns and to reward these dedicated public servants with a decent pay deal, and tackle the serious problems facing Welsh maternity care.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We recognise and respect the strength of feeling among our healthcare workers, which has been expressed through the decision to take industrial action.

“We will continue to work to bring together trade unions, employers and government to deliver the best possible outcomes for staff, while continuing to call on the UK Government to use the funding it has to provide a fair pay offer to NHS staff and enable us to do the same in Wales.”

The Prime Minister has said he is not able to “wave a magic wand” to resolve the bitter dispute over pay among NHS staff.

Rishi Sunak said that giving pay rises to striking staff – including ambulance workers and nurses – would lead to money being taken away from “elsewhere in the NHS budget”.

But he insisted that the Government would continue to “engage in dialogue with the unions”.