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Workers "demoralised and fearful" says local govt union

The local government union Unison says today's proposals have left council restructuring no further forward and that the uncertainty is leaving workers demoralised and fearful for their futures.

There is a general consensus across Wales that council restructuring is both necessary and inevitable.

However, despite the fact that this debate has been ongoing for some time now, we appear to be no further forward in terms of a blueprint for the future map of local government in Wales.

This lack of certainty is dangerous for the future of Welsh local government. Ongoing deliberations are leaving the local government workers feeling demoralised and fearful for their futures.

Our members are experiencing a double whammy effect as a result of this indecision.

On the one hand councils are far too often turning to staff to make up budget shortfalls through job loss and cuts to terms and conditions, and on the other hand staff will face further disruption when councils are eventually restructured.

– Dominic MacAskill, Head of Local Government, Unison Cymru Wales

Mr MacAskill warned that further delays will exacerbate the damage being done to services as a result of austerity. He called for council mergers to go ahead as a matter of urgency, as local services could not continue to operate "under a shadow of doubt and indecision".


AMs' pay hike would insult health workers says union

Unison, one of the unions that recently agreed a Welsh NHS pay deal, is opposing the £10,000 increase proposed by the AMs' pay review body. The union reluctantly accepted that Welsh Government couldn't afford a 1% increase recommended for health workers this year.

A £10,000 pay rise for Assembly Members cannot be justified, particularly when you take into account the struggle that so many working people are experiencing day in and day out.

Unison argues that the outcomes of pay review bodies should be respected, however, the Welsh Government were unable to implement the 1% pay review recommendation made for health workers due to financial constraints placed on them from Westminster.

With this in mind, not only would it be a case of double standards if AMs accepted an 18% pay award, but it would also be an insult to health workers across Wales.

We are urging AMs to reject the pay recommendation. Our members deserve to be paid fairly for the work that they do and until this can be achieved, it would be unjust for AMs to accept a pay increase, especially of this magnitude.

– Unison Cymru/Wales Secretary Margaret Thomas
  1. Nick Powell

Details of NHS pay offer revealed

Welsh NHS staff are being given details of an improved pay offer that's led Unison to call off a half-day strike planned for Monday. It includes a £187 lump sum and a commitment by the Welsh Government to a 1% pay increase next April, in addition to any increments. The full offer is as follows:

  • £187 (An increase on the £160 previously offered)
  • A 1% rise from next April, on top of any annual increment
  • All workers to receive at least the living wage of £7.85 an hour from January. The recent increase in the living wage means that this will now benefit 4,500 people, who will get a rise of between 2.5% and 5%

For the lowest paid of our members, it is in fact a very good deal

– Dawn Bowden, UNISON Cymru/Wales Head of Health

Unison is not actually recommending the deal to its members but is telling them that it's the best that can be achieved through negotiation. It's a two year deal, with pay strategy from 2016 onwards looked at by an NHS Wales Workforce Commission.

The union says it makes its pay claims for the UK as a whole but as health is devolved, different outcomes are always possible. This year a pay review recommended a 1% rise. This was accepted by the Scottish Government but the UK government said that it would not pay it in England to workers getting an annual increment.

Welsh Government hopes for NHS pay deal

The Welsh Government is not releasing details of the improved pay deal that it's offered NHS staff. The offer has led to Unison calling off a half-day strike planned for Monday. ITV News understands that the proposal the union will put to its members involves a slightly bigger payment than the £160 previously offered to all Welsh NHS staff apart from doctors, dentists and senior managers.

We are pleased that Unison has suspended the proposed industrial action whilst they consult their members. These discussions have shown the progress we can make together when good industrial relations are maintained. We await the result of the consultation which we hope will deliver a positive response. Our priority continues to be to maintain jobs at the frontline of NHS Wales against a backdrop of severe cuts to our budget.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson


  1. Nick Powell

Health workers may get separate pay deal in Wales

A new pay offer to NHS workers from the Welsh Government means that the Unison union has called off a half-day strike planned for next Monday. The details of the improved offer have not been released but it means that industrial action, due to hit the English NHS later this month, may be avoided in Wales.

These new proposals are a significant improvement for our members and the result of weeks of tough negotiations with the Welsh Government. It is right that our NHS members now have a say and we will consult our members on the new proposals.

– Dawn Bowden, UNISON Cymru/Wales Head of Health

The dispute began when the UK Government rejected a pay review recommendation of a 1% increase and the Welsh government decided that it couldn't afford to pay the rise either. Instead it offered a one-off payment of £160 to all Welsh NHS staff apart from doctors, dentists and senior managers. The 2,400 lowest paid workers got more -up to £470, as a result of a commitment to at least pay the living wage.

Unison rejected that offer and called a strike ballot, 77% of the members who took part voted in favour. The union argued that the workforce could not be expected to plug the funding gap in the Welsh NHS.

Unions have traditionally been reluctant to see an end to pay being set on a UK-wide or England-and-Wales basis. But today's announcement from Unison, comes after the Fire Brigades Union in Wales called off a strike over its pensions dispute. The Welsh Government has offered to consult on a possible solution. Firefighters still walked out in England, where the union felt the government was not willing to compromise.

Report "sensible and balanced" says union

Unison, the union which represents many local council workers, has broadly welcomed the Williams Commission report and it's call for a series of mergers that would halve the number of county and county borough councils in Wales.

The union says that it will study the recommendations and their impact on public sector workers throughout Wales.

The report appears to be a sensible and balanced response to the challenges that Welsh public services face and we are pleased that the commission acknowledges the increased demand being placed on services at a time of budget restraint. Understandably there is going to be a lot of focus on the future of Welsh local government and we welcome the assertion that the ‘status quo’ is not an option. Unison is calling for the Welsh Government to establish a staff commission with significant trade union involvement to oversee this reorganisation process.

Unison has always been clear that 22 local authorities across Wales is an unsustainable position. We need to use this chance to ensure that local authorities can sustainably deliver good quality services and value for money to Welsh communities. However, Unison is concerned that there are going to be significant transitional costs incurred as a result of reorganisation and believes that the Welsh Government should commit to fund any reorganisation and local authority budgets should not be required to absorb these costs.

Local authority budgets must be used responsibly and for the delivery of services to the communities they serve, which would be incompatible with having to fund reorganisation. We are positive about many of the opportunities outlined in the report for local government but we are disappointed that there is no recommendation to merge the eight current Local Government Pension Scheme funds into one all Wales fund which would lead to over £65 million year on year savings and we would urge the Welsh government to take this into consideration.

– Dominic MacAskill, head of local government Unison Cymru Wales

Redundancy will 'affect very small number of staff'

The cumulative impact of the UK Government's decisions means that our budget has been cut by £1.7 billion in real terms since 2010-11.

The impact of these cuts on all public services, including the NHS, is inescapable. We know that health boards are facing unprecedented levels of demand and additional burdens, and have responded by increasing the health budget in Wales by £570m over three years.

Cardiff and Vale Health Board is not making 400 members of staff redundant. Faced with increasing demands against a backdrop of austerity, it is modernising and creating more efficient systems and ways of working. As a result of these changes, some staff are being redeployed, some are taking voluntary early release, and where posts are no longer needed, those posts are being removed. We are reassured that compulsory redundancy will affect a very small number of staff, as a last resort.

– A Welsh Government spokesperson

Health workers plan job cut protest at Senedd

Unions claim planned NHS job cuts raise "serious concerns" for clinical services. Credit: PA

UNISON members from across South Wales plan to demonstrate today against jobs cuts being proposed by the Cardiff and Vale health board.

A petition will be delivered to the National Assembly for Wales as part of the campaign to protect jobs and services says the union.

The board is aiming to reduce staff by 380 by next March.

The Chief Executive of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board says fewer than 40 staff are at risk of compulsory redundancy.

Mike Jones of UNISON said, "We know the Welsh government has aimed to work in partnership with the unions and the NHS around these budget pressures and we applaud them for that. Unfortunately Cardiff and Vale has decided to go their own way - that is frustrating and demoralising.**

"In our view, cutting jobs flies in the face of the staffing issues raised in the Francis report. We know that staffing levels are key to the sustainability of good quality safe services and there are certain clinical areas being considered that lead us to have serious concerns," he said.**

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