NHS staff belonging to Wales’ biggest healthcare union will be balloted for industrial action over pay.

Thousands of Welsh nurses, healthcare assistants, ambulance workers, hospital porters, cleaners, cooks, admin staff and more belonging to the Unison union say a below-inflation pay rise in a cost-of-living crisis is "not good enough".

Unison said the wages of NHS staff in Wales have been "supressed" over the last decade with pay freezes or capped pay awards and Unison representatives in Welsh hospitals report daily approaches from colleagues struggling to make ends meet and in dire need.

READ MORE: Unions angry at pay awards for public sector workers

The Welsh Government announced on Friday last week (July 22), it will not boost salaries by more than the recommendations of the Pay Review Body.

The recommendation of the NHS Pay Review Body, for all NHS staff on Agenda for Change terms and conditions – including nurses, cleaners, porters, healthcare support workers and healthcare professionals, is for a £1,400 pay rise on most pay grades.

The Leader:

Dawn Ward, chair of Unison Cymru Wales health committee, said: “Welsh Government has totally let down healthcare workers in the middle of the worst cost of living crisis in living memory. Our salaries have been so tightly squeezed by years of Westminster underfunding that NHS staff simply cannot cope with rocketing bills and groceries.

“Being a healthcare worker can be stressful at the best of times, you shouldn’t have to be worrying about where the next meal will come from. But that is the desperate situation many NHS staff are in.”

READ MORE: Welsh Government working on plan to address NHS staff issues

Hugh McDyer, Unison Cymru Wales head of health, added: “It’s very disappointing Welsh Government turned down our request for additional pay enhancements for health workers in Wales. A decent pay rise would be a start in sorting out the workforce crisis which is at the heart of a number of health service problems.

“Welsh Government recognises their offer falls short of what is needed in this crisis, but blames a lack of funding for pay from Westminster. This deal does not meet the needs of the health workforce in Wales and we will begin preparations towards conducting an industrial action ballot."

UNISON's Welsh NHS workers will now vote on whether to take industrial action. 

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have accepted the independent pay review body’s recommendations in full but without additional funding from the UK Government, there are inevitably limits to how far we can go in Wales. We continue to press it to pass on the funding necessary for full and fair pay rises for public sector workers.

“While it is disappointing Unison is proceeding to a ballot, we have committed to continue to explore a range of other issues raised as part of our discussions with trade unions.”