RCN members striking in December Merthyr, photo Socialist Party Wales
RCN members striking in December Merthyr, photo Socialist Party Wales

Gareth Bromhall, Wales ambulance worker

On 24 May the NHS Wales Partnership Forum Trade Union Group voted to accept the two-year pay offer from the Labour-led Welsh Government.

It is an improved deal, with an extra lump sum for 2022-23 and 5% for 2023-24, but with real inflation still over 10% this is still a pay cut in real terms for NHS workers in Wales.

This followed five months of strikes and negotiations that saw nurses and ambulance service workers take action for the first time.

Unite, Unison, GMB and the Royal College of Midwives in Wales accepted the deal with a majority of the membership voting in favour. Many activists across the health unions organised to coordinate a campaign to reject.

RCN members voted to reject. The RCN in Wales has vowed to continue striking, with days called on 6 and 7 June and 12 and 13 July, to continue the pressure the Welsh government to increase pay for nurses. 

‘Social partnership’ between union tops and the Labour-led Welsh government meant that, during the course of the dispute, some strike days were called off, and the leadership of unions such as Unison and GMB were keen to accept inadequate deals.

In these unions, sizeable minorities voted to reject, and we will be building support for the RCN nurses. What is clear from talking to workers across the service is that, while many have voted to end this immediate battle, the war is still raging. Those that have taken action have been steeled, and those that have not have seen what can be achieved. That bodes well for further struggles on pay, conditions and the future of the NHS in the hands of Labour in Cardiff and the Tories in Westminster.