Healthcare workers in west Wales say they are bitterly disappointed the Welsh government has refused to significantly boost their pay award in crisis talks with their trade unions.

Unison Cymru Wales’ health committee is likely to reaffirm its decision to ballot for industrial action when it meets next week now talks have failed to make a breakthrough.

Unison led a delegation of health unions for urgent discussions with Health minister Eluned Morgan, after 90 per cent of members voted to oppose the imposition of a 3 per cent pay award.

They included nurses, healthcare assistants, ambulance workers, hospital porters, cleaners, cooks, admin staff and more.

Unison says 3 per cent is below the rate of inflation and the union is frustrated at Welsh government’s suggestion the rise could only be boosted by a one-off, unconsolidated 1 per cent and a day’s additional annual leave.

There is further anger over Welsh government’s decision to exclude 5,400 NHS workers on the lowest pay grades from the full 3 per cent rise.

Hugh McDyer, Unison Cymru Wales head of health, said: “NHS employees have worked through the toughest 18 months of their lives.

"They put caring for people ahead of their own welfare during a deadly pandemic.

“They’ve had ten years of pay freezes or low pay awards which have squeezed living standards.

"Then the Welsh government says they’re imposing a pay rise below the rate of inflation. It’s no wonder NHS workers are insulted.

“The 5,400 lowest paid staff won’t even receive the full 3 per cent because Welsh government says their pay was boosted by an increase to the Foundation Living Wage.

"Talk about trying to divide the workforce. Working for the NHS is about delivering care as one team.

"Unison will discuss how the pay rise can be improved with Welsh government at any time, but the minister must recognise NHS staff want to be treated with the respect they deserve.

"That means a significant uplift in wages for all employees. Proposing a small, one-off additional payment above the 3 per cent, makes little difference to someone’s quality of life and feels patronising.”

Unison says this is the first time the Welsh government has introduced an NHS pay rise before speaking to health union representatives.

It contrasted the minister’s decision with the more constructive approach of the Scottish government which sought union agreement over its pay offer for NHS Scotland workers.

The trade union says Welsh government’s actions fall below the social partnership working ministers promote.

Unison argues people will leave the NHS if pay does not improve so dealing with record waiting lists is going to be more difficult.