MIDWIVES and maternity support workers are to go on strike next month.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) working in the NHS in Wales will take strike action from 8am to 4pm on 7 February, the union confirmed this afternoon.
They will also be taking industrial action short of a strike by claiming payment for any overtime worked in the week following strike action.
An RCM survey of its Welsh workplace branches in December showed that just over half (50.5%) of midwives felt they were unable to take breaks during their working day.
The safety of women will be the prime concern during any industrial action says the RCM.
There will be midwives and MSWs working on maternity units to ensure women – such as those in labour or needing emergency care – receive the care they need. Cover will be like that on a bank holiday.
Julie Richards, the RCM’s Director for Wales, said: “There is a growing crisis in Welsh maternity services.
"We are losing midwives because they simply cannot sustain the incredible effort they are having to make to ensure services are safe. They have also seen a decade and more of pay freezes and pay stagnation watching their pay packets significantly shrink with real terms pay cuts.
"To offer them a pay deal well below half of the rate of inflation is simply an insult that does a massive disservice to our maternity staff.
“Our members have made the decision to take industrial action after a great deal of thought and very reluctantly because their first concern is for the women, babies, and families they care for. "However, they have been corralled into a dead end by Government and see no other option than take a stand for what they know is right for them, and most importantly for women.”
The move to action follows a formal ballot of eligible RCM members in Wales* late last year on the offer of around a four per cent pay award for most midwives. An offer that has not been increased by the Welsh Government. In the ballot just over nine out of ten (95%) voted for industrial action short of a strike. A similar number (91%) voted for industrial action consisting of a strike on a turnout of 55.39% of eligible RCM Wales members. The RCM, along with other health unions is in discussions with the Welsh Government but as yet have not received an offer that would halt any industrial action.
Julie Richards added: “Midwives and MSWs, along with their maternity colleagues are keeping maternity services afloat but they can no longer bear that load.
"They are working long hours, often beyond those they are paid for and they are exhausted, fragile and simply at the limits of their endurance. This cannot go on because if it does, we will continue to lose staff the service can ill afford to. Now is the time for the Welsh Government to act on their concerns and to reward these dedicated public servants with a decent pay deal, and tackle the serious problems facing Welsh maternity care.”