Scotland’s largest health union has suspended its strike ballot, and will now ask NHS staff if it should accept the offer of a £2,000 rise to workers’ wages.
Unison will ask its 50,000 members if they are willing to accept the Scottish Government’s £2,205 flat pay offer, one which Health Secretary Humza Yousaf last week heralded as the largest in Scotland since devolution.
Wilma Brown, chairwoman of the union’s health committee, said: “This is a final pay offer from the Scottish Government, it is also significantly different from the previous offers, so we think it is right that NHS members decide whether they are willing to accept it.”
The pay offer is for those on the Agenda for Change pay scale, which includes nurses, midwives, and support staff like porters and admin workers. The proposals will see those on the lowest paid band take home an extra 11% each month, while those on the highest band will see their salaries rise by 2%.
Ms Brown said staff in the health service were “working through two crises, an NHS crisis and a cost-of-living crisis”.
“This offer will go some way to helping them with the latter but we have a huge amount of work to do to get our NHS to be world class again, irrespective of the outcome of this consultation the Scottish government need to see this as the beginning of a journey back to full health for the NHS,” she said.
Despite Unison putting its plans for a strike ballot on pause, the Royal College of Nursing Scotland is pressing ahead.
Its members rejected the Scottish Government’s 5% pay offer earlier this year, and said while last week’s offer was an improvement for the lowest paid it was a cut for registered nurses.
Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland’s director, said on Wednesday “stake action is always a last resort”.
“That it has come to this demonstrates just how concerned our members are for the safety of their patients, how undervalued and demoralised they are feeling and how frustrated they are at the Scottish government’s continued failure to listen and act,” he said.
After the latest pay offer was made on Friday, Mr Yousaf said the “improved pay offer, which is the largest of its kind since devolution, reflects their hard work and will go a long way to help them through the cost-of-living crisis”.
“This has been another exceptionally challenging year for our health service and we have a difficult winter ahead, but I am pleased that we are able to recognise the service and dedication of our healthcare and support staff with this pay offer,” he said.
“We owe NHS staff a debt of gratitude for leading us through the greatest public health crisis in recent history.”
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