More than 50,000 Scottish health workers are set to begin to vote in a strike ballot as a pay dispute with the NHS continues.
It is the first time since devolution that health workers have been balloted for strike action over pay, and Unison Scotland’s health committee are recommending members to vote to take action.
A recent consultative ballot from the union rejected the Scottish Government’s pay offer of 5%, with more than 80% of members voting in favour of industrial action.
Wilma Brown, chair of Unison Scotland’s health committee, said: “These are unprecedented times and NHS staff are struggling to make ends meet.
“The Scottish Government’s pay offer is nowhere near enough and leaves everyone in the NHS worse off. It’s a real-terms pay cut across every single NHS salary band.
“We’re in the biggest cost-of-living and NHS staffing crisis in history and yet the Scottish Government want hard-working health workers to accept a real-terms pay cut.”
The ballot opened on Monday and runs until October 31.
Matt McLaughlin, Unison Scotland’s head of health, said: “Ministers need to understand the anger of health staff who are working in an under-funded, under-staffed NHS.
“It’s already an extremely stressful environment without having to worry about how you will pay your bills and feed your family.
“Nobody wants to take strike action but without an improved pay offer, our members will be left with no choice. That is why we are urging our health members to vote in favour of strike action and ballots are being posted today.”
Strike action could mean staff shortages already hitting the service will be exacerbated in the autumn.
The Scottish Government hailed the 5% pay offer as a “record deal” when details were first announced in June.
The deal would have been backdated to April 1 2022, with staff receiving an additional £1,000 to £2,400 a year depending on their role and experience following a 4% increase last year.
But medics have been near-unanimous in their assertion that it did not go far enough.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Any ballot for industrial action is disappointing.
“We are engaged with health unions and I hope we can come to an agreement on pay in the near future.
“This work continues in the context of our Emergency Budget Review following the UK Government’s fiscal event.”