THOUSANDS of porters, hospital cleaners, nurses, paramedics and other health workers will be able to have their say on Welsh government’s proposal to increase NHS pay by 3 per cent.

The pay consultation for Wales’ biggest NHS trade union, UNISON Cymru Wales, has opened today (Wednesday) and will run until 17 September.

UNISON has labelled the award ‘unacceptable’ and the union’s health committee agreed to unanimously oppose the 3 per cent pay imposition in response to the anger felt by many healthcare members.

The Retail Price Index measure of inflation – the rate most commonly used to apply pay awards, is 3.9 per cent, so UNISON says an increase of just 3 per cent is effectively a pay cut in real terms.

UNISON is disappointed Welsh Government has decided to impose the pay award in haste and without any consultation with any of the NHS trade unions.

UNISON has also registered its frustration that the Welsh government had not challenged the UK government’s decision not to provide additional funding for the pay award, meaning the 3 per cent must be paid from the current NHS Wales budget.

UNISON is campaigning for every NHS worker to receive a £2,000 uplift to their wages. The pay award was due in April, but staff have been made to wait until the summer. They have endured a decade of pay freezes or low pay awards because of UK government austerity.

The trade union says a majority vote by healthcare workers against the award is likely to trigger a ballot for industrial action.

Paul Summers, UNISON lead officer for health, said: “Healthcare workers have endured a lot over the pandemic and made many sacrifices. They put Covid patients’ welfare before their own and hoped this would be properly recognised in a fair pay award.

“Politicians are happy to heap praise on healthcare workers but won’t give them a decent boost to their wages.

“We are calling on every NHS worker in Wales to make their voice heard in this pay consultation.”

Stefan Senese, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board employee and vice chair of UNISON Cymru Wales Health Committee, said: “All through the pandemic, we’ve shown the country how valuable we are and the public want us to get a decent pay rise.

“If government doesn’t get pay right, people will leave the NHS and dealing with record waiting lists is going to be even more difficult.

“Now we want every UNISON member to vote to tell us whether they think the government’s 3 per cent award is enough.”