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Welsh nurses secure one per cent pay rise

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The Welsh Government has agreed to award workers in the Welsh NHS with a one per cent pay rise, as part of negotiations to avoid strike action.

Other gains include a payment of £187 to all Agenda for Change staff, and the implementation of the Living Wage (£7.85 per hour) across all health boards in Wales. Also, the Welsh Government will establish an NHS workforce commission which will use the Nuffield Trust report 'A Decade of Austerity in Wales' to consider issues such as Agenda for Change pay arrangements and the future of the workforce in Wales.

The negotiations were a result of trade unions such as Unison balloted their members on strike action over the issue of pay. Seventy seven per cent of Unison members voted yes for industrial action and 90 per cent voted for action short of strike in a ballot that closed on 20 October. The unions originally planned to go on strike on 10 November, followed by a period of 'working to rule'. However, this was called off when the Welsh Government agreed to negotiate with the unions.

Dawn Bowden, UNISON Wales head of health said: 'Taking strike action is always a last resort for our members. The settlement is an improvement on the previous offer and we welcome achieving the Living Wage for our lowest paid members. This has been a difficult process for all involved, particularly given the challenging financial climate that we are in as a result of the UK Government's continued austerity programme. Clearly this agreement does not make up for the real term loss that NHS workers have suffered in recent years, but we hope we can build on this settlement in the future.'

Health minister Mark Drakeford said: This two-year, made-in-Wales pay deal demonstrates our ongoing commitment to staff working in the NHS in these challenging financial times. Our overriding priority has been – and continues to be – to maintain jobs at the frontline of NHS Wales against a backdrop of severe cuts to our budget. This is an excellent example of working collaboratively and co-production and I am pleased that in Wales we have been able to avoid significant strike action by agreeing a mutual position – this is a credit to all parties.'

In England, the government has not agreed to negotiate. Unite reported that health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that he 'didn't talk to health workers on pay.' Members of Unite, Unison and the RCM in England will stage a four-hour walk-out on 24 November.

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