Ambulance strikes called off as NHS Scotland staff accept pay deal

Unite and Unison's health membership voted to accept the improved offer which was tabled two weeks ago.

NHS Scotland staff vote to accept improved pay offer, Unite the union confirms iStock

Unions have confirmed an increased pay offer has been accepted by NHS Scotland staff, averting strike action.

Unite’s health membership voted yes by 64% to accept the improved offer which was tabled two weeks ago following talks involving the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the health secretary Humza Yousaf, NHS Scotland and the trade unions.

Unison, Scotland’s largest NHS union, also confirmed its members voted to accept the Scottish Government’s pay offer – with 57% balloting in favour.

It means that planned industrial action that was set to affect the Scottish Ambulance Service, as well as the wider NHS Scotland, has been called off.

Unison said the acceptance was “a warning” and not “a win” for the Government.

The latest offer represents an average 7.5% pay rise across NHS Scotland, with up to 11.24% for those in the bottom pay bands.

Workers in the salary bands one through four will receive a flat payment of £2,205, with those between five and seven being given increases ranging from £2,280 and £2,660.

Humza Yousaf previously stated that was no more money for an improved offer.

Chair of Unison Scotland’s health committee Wilma Brown said: “Whilst this decision ends the immediate threat of industrial action, it is not a win for government – it is a warning.

“It was far from a unanimous decision and many of the NHS professional grades feel badly let down. Almost half of Unison NHS staff voted to reject this latest pay offer, and many who did vote to accept, did so reluctantly.”

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said the union will make “no apologies” for fighting for better jobs, pay and conditions for health workers.

“The improved offer for NHS Scotland workers which is worth over 11% for the lowest pay bands is a testament to the resolve of our members,” she said.

“They were prepared to take the difficult step in taking industrial action but only because they had no other option left.

“Unite makes no apologies for fighting for better jobs, pay and conditions in the health service because NHS Scotland workers should be fairly rewarded for the outstanding work that they do day in and day out.”

James O’Connell, Unite’s lead negotiator for NHS Scotland, welcomed the acceptance of the offer.

“We believe that the improved offer was the best that could be negotiated under the present circumstances,” he said.

“It was ultimately up to our NHS membership to consider whether the offer was acceptable which they have now judged it to be by 64%.

“However, these protracted negotiations should be a warning to the Scottish Government. No longer can they take NHS workers for granted and platitudes are not sufficient.

“Words need to be backed up by action and the threat of industrial action didn’t need to be on the cards if the workers were made a fair offer in the summer.”

O’Connell added: “We will be holding the Scottish Government’s accountable for the commitments they have made and we urge them to start negotiations in the next couple of months to address the ongoing concerns within NHS Scotland.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I welcome Unison and Unite members accepting this record pay offer. We have engaged tirelessly with trade union representatives over recent weeks, leaving no stone unturned to reach an offer which responds to the key concerns of staff across the service.

“This offer of over half a billion pounds underlines our commitment to supporting our fantastic NHS staff. A newly qualified nurse would see a pay rise of 8.7%, and experienced nurses and would get uplifts of between £2,450 and £2,751.

“We are making this offer at a time of extraordinary financial challenges to the Scottish Government to get money into the pockets of hard working staff and to avoid industrial action, in what is already going to be an incredibly challenging winter.

“Constructive engagement is crucial, and I would urge the UK Government to get back to the negotiating table with the unions as we have done in Scotland.”