Unions pause Welsh ambulance strike action after 'meaningful negotiations' over pay

Around half of the Welsh ambulance workforce walked out on the same day in February.

Strike action by Welsh ambulance workers has been paused following "meaningful negotiations" between unions and the Welsh Government.

GMB and Unite were due to carry out strikes on Monday 6 March after rejecting the latest pay offer of an extra 3% this year, and 1.5% annually after that.

Both unions took coordinated strike action on 20 February - resulting in around half of the Welsh ambulance workforce walking out.

The Royal College of Nursing also rejected the pay deal, but negotiations have been taking place on a joint basis with several health unions - the majority of which accepted the offer on Tuesday.

Ambulance workers say long hospital handover delays are putting patient safety at risk.

Following that announcement, RCN Wales director Helen Whyley asked Health Minister Eluned Morgan to return to the negotiating table or face further nurse strikes.

But ambulance unions said "significant progress has been made" following talks on Thursday and Friday, with more meetings scheduled for next week.

In a joint statement, Nathan Holman, GMB's spokesperson for Wales, and Richard Munn, Wales spokesperson for Unite said: "GMB and Unite have paused our strike in Welsh Ambulance on Monday 6 March 2023.

"Significant progress has been made and we are pausing our action to allow us to continue discussions."

RCN Wales has also been involved in the ongoing discussions.

Director Helen Whyley said: "I am pleased to announce that following our members' votes to reject a pay award on Tuesday this week, the Welsh Government has re-opened negotiations with RCN Wales regarding pay, terms and conditions for nursing staff.

"Detailed negotiations are set to commence next week.

"The Minister for Health and Social Services confirmed this course of action following our request for urgent re-commencement of negotiations this week.

"Once again, our members have sent a message that is loud, clear and strong enough to bring the Government back to the table.

"The Minister acknowledges the RCN's rejection of the additional offer alongside the wider NHS Wales Trade Union Group narrow majority to accept."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We welcome the pausing of strike action by Unite and GMB while meaningful conversations with our trade unions social partners continue."

The offer made by the Welsh Government to health unions was a 1.5% pay increase and a one-off payment of 1.5% of a worker's salary. This is on top of 4.5% already offered workers be backdated to April 2022.