NHS staff to vote on latest pay offer as strike ballots suspended

The Scottish Government made a formal offer to unions at the end of last week.

NHS staff to vote on latest Scottish Government pay offer as strike ballots suspended iStock

Strike ballots have been suspended as thousands of healthcare workers are to vote on the latest Scottish Government pay offer.

The Scottish Government made a formal offer to unions at the end of last week as a result of talks that went on into the early hours of Friday.

As part of the deal, NHS Agenda for Change staff – which excludes only doctors, dentists and senior managers in the health service – would receive a flat rate increase of £2,205, backdated to April.

On Wednesday, Unison suspended a ballot for strike action which was originally set to close on Monday October 31, as representatives consult with members.

Previously, a 5% pay offer was rejected by unions.

Wilma Brown, chair of the Unison Scotland health committee said: “After our meeting this afternoon Unison has agreed to suspend its NHS strike ballot so we can consult NHS members over the Scottish Government £2,205 pay offer to all NHS staff. 

“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. 

“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.”

Unite representatives are calling on its NHS members in Scotland to reject the Scottish Government’s latest pay offer.

The union said that whilst the principles of a flat rate offer was something that Unite supported, further analysis meant that some workers “would actually be considerably worse off”. 

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Thousands of vital NHS workers have made it clear that they are prepared to take strike action in their fight for better pay. 

“The Scottish Government must take notice of the scale of the cost of living crisis confronting our members and take action now to ensure that NHS Scotland can make a better offer. Unless a deal that our members can accept is put together, the Scottish Government must surely recognise that the current dispute will escalate. 

Unite industrial officer, James O’Connell, added: “The principle of a flat rate increase is right and fair to address imbalances in pay across grading structures. However, ultimately this new offer would still not see experienced NHS workers with any real improvements in their pay.

“Unite will begin balloting members this week, but NHS Scotland should be under no illusion that we will walk away from anything less than a decent pay rise across the board for all workers in the NHS.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I welcome Unison’s health committee’s decision on our record pay offer. Of course, members need to have their say on this, and we are keen to ensure that staff see the benefit of their pay rise as soon as possible. 

“These are uncertain times, and it is no secret that public finances are stretched to the limit, so I hope members will seriously consider this offer.

“This is the biggest pay offer since devolution and the money will go some way to help with the cost of living crisis this winter. For the lowest paid, this is an 11 percent above-inflation pay rise, and it will ensure our nurses and other Agenda for Change staff remain the best paid in the UK.”

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