Latest NHS Scotland pay offer rejected by majority of union's members

Two thirds of GMB members working across NHS Scotland and Scottish Ambulance Service vote against offer in latest ballot.

Majority of NHS Scotland GMB union members reject latest Scottish Government pay offer iStock

Two thirds of NHS Scotland staff who are members of the GMB union have rejected the Scottish Government’s latest pay offer.

Some 66% of members voted to reject the offer, which would have seen workers receive an average 7.5% pay uplift.

GMB Scotland has over 8,000 members employed across NHS Scotland and its associated services, including 1700 members in the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS). 

It means the threat of strike action from GMB members working for the NHS and SAS continues to loom.

Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland senior organiser for public service, said: “The result reflects our members views and the realities of this offer.

“It is still below inflation for the vast majority of staff, who worked through the depths of the pandemic and are struggling in the grip of this cost-of-living crisis, and it doesn’t go far enough in itself to confront the understaffing crisis affecting frontline services either.

“The Scottish Government has contrasted its approach on trade union engagement with that of the UK Government, so we are now asking the cabinet secretary to practice what he preaches by meeting our members this side of Christmas to continue discussions over their value and the sustainability of their services.”

The GMB announcement comes as thousands of nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland walked out on Thursday in the biggest strike in nursing history.

Around a quarter of hospitals and community teams in England, alongside all trusts in Northern Ireland and all but one health board in Wales, are part of the industrial action.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf told STV News last week that he believes he still has the support of NHS staff in Scotland.

Yousaf said: “They want us to put our money where our mouth is and that’s why we’ve offered this significant pay deal – so I think they can be confident because we are putting that record pay deal on the table.”

Following negotiations with Yousaf and the intervention of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the deal offered pay rises ranging from £2,205 to £2,751 – which ministers said meant NHS workers in Scotland would remain the best paid in the UK.

The lowest paid staff would get a rise of 11.3%, with an average increase of 7.5%.

The offer also includes a commitment to reduce the working week from 37.5 hours to 36 hours with no loss of pay.

What have the other unions decided?

Unite members of NHS Scotland called off industrial action on Monday, with 64% of members voting to accept the improved offer tabled two weeks ago.

Members of Unison, the biggest health union, also voted to cancel action, with 57% backing the deal on a turnout of 62%.

“It is important the cabinet secretary takes on board the views of all NHS staff and not just some, because we are talking about frontline workers who understand first-hand the crisis across service delivery and patient care, and they have clear and credible views on how these services can be recovered in the months and years ahead.

“The fact remains that GMB members in major services and health board areas have strong legal mandates for strikes and an imposition of this offer without further discussion would be seriously detrimental to the industrial relations the Scottish Government have been quick to promote.

“If the cabinet secretary wants to preserve those relations, he must meet our members urgently.”

The Royal College of Nursing is balloting its members over an improved pay offer from the Scottish Government – with the prospect of strikes by nurses looming if the offer is rejected.

The RCN ballot will close on December 19, but it is not clear when a result will be announced.

STV poll – standards getting worse

Two-thirds of adults feel the standard of care provided by the NHS in Scotland is declining – as the service gears up for one of its most difficult winters.

A ScotPulse poll commissioned by STV News earlier this month found that nearly half of adults (49%) are worried about getting ill this winter and 66% say the standard of care is getting worse.

Confidence in the Scottish Government’s handling of the health service is also falling, with 44% saying they have low to no confidence.

Some 55% of respondents said they would consider accessing private health care if they could afford it.

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