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Unison confirms strike action in Wales

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NHS workers represented by Unison will go on strike between 8.30am and 12pm on 10 November.

This will be followed by four days of 'working to rule' where workers will take allocated breaks and only work their contracted hours between 11 and 14 November.

Dawn Bowden, head of health at Unison Cymru/Wales, said: 'NHS members don't take action often or lightly. For many of our members this will be the first time they walk out as the last action over pay was 32 years ago. The NHS runs on the goodwill of its workers, but that goodwill is beginning to run low.

'We understand the complexities within the Welsh budget, but the workforce cannot be expected to continue to plug the financial gap in the Welsh NHS. This is becoming increasingly difficult for our members to swallow given the unnecessary and politically driven battering that the Welsh NHS workers and services are receiving at a UK level.

'Strike action is always a last resort so we will continue our discussions with the employers and the Welsh government and urge them to put a revised offer forward that is worthy of consulting our members on.'

Seventy seven per cent of members voted yes for industrial action and 90 per cent voted for action short of strike in a ballot that closed on 20 October.

Nurses, healthcare assistants, occupational therapists, porters, paramedics, medical secretaries and cooks will take action in response to the decision by the Welsh health minister, Mark Drakeford, to ignore the NHS pay review body recommendation to increase pay by one per cent. Welsh NHS workers were instead offered a one-off non-consolidated payment of £160.

Unison will ensure that there is minimum impact for patients.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: 'Positive meetings are currently taking place between staff representatives, NHS Employers and Welsh Government to investigate a two-year pay deal, so it is extremely disappointing that industrial action is planned when these discussion have not yet concluded.

'We are proud the 2014-15 pay settlement contained a commitment to make the NHS a living wage employer – we have tried to be as fair as possible and maintain jobs in the Welsh NHS against a backdrop of our budget being drastically cut by the UK Government.

'The reality is that by 2015-16 the Welsh Government's budget will be 10% lower in real terms than it was in 2010-11 – a reduction which equates to £1.5 billion less.

'With pay accounting for more than 60 per cent of the NHS budget we have no choice but to consider some form of pay restraint to maintain jobs and frontline services.'

Other unions such as Unite, have not yet balloted for strike action, saying that they are 'optimistic that a negotiated settlement will be reached'.

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