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Unison opens strike ballot over pay offer for nurses in Scotland

More than 50,000 members are being asked to vote in favour of industrial action over ‘real-terms pay cut’, amid staffing crisis and spiralling cost of living

More than 50,000 members are being asked to vote in favour of industrial action over ‘real-terms pay cut’, amid staffing crisis and spiralling cost of living

Nurses and other health workers are being urged to vote for industrial action over pay in a ballot that opened in Scotland today.

Unison is balloting more than 50,000 members in Scotland on the government’s pay offer there of 5%. In a recent consultative ballot run by the union, more than 80% of members said they were in favour of industrial action.

Vote on industrial action against ‘real-terms pay cut’

The union says the pay offer amounts to a ‘real-terms pay cut’, with wages failing to keep pace with the spiralling cost of

More than 50,000 members are being asked to vote in favour of industrial action over ‘real-terms pay cut’, amid staffing crisis and spiralling cost of living

Colourful overlapping silhouettes of hands voting in watercolour texture
Picture: iStock

Nurses and other health workers are being urged to vote for industrial action over pay in a ballot that opened in Scotland today.

Unison is balloting more than 50,000 members in Scotland on the government’s pay offer there of 5%. In a recent consultative ballot run by the union, more than 80% of members said they were in favour of industrial action.

Vote on industrial action against ‘real-terms pay cut’

The union says the pay offer amounts to a ‘real-terms pay cut’, with wages failing to keep pace with the spiralling cost of living.

Unison Scotland health committee chair Wilma Brown 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.

‘We’re in the biggest cost of living and NHS staffing crisis in history and yet the Scottish government wants hard-working health workers to accept a real-terms pay cut.’

Unison Scotland’s health of health Matt McLaughlin added: ‘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.

‘No one wants to take strike action, but without an improved pay offer, our members will be left with no choice.’

Agency nurses fill staffing gaps as nurse vacancies rise

The ballot comes as the Scottish government spends millions on agency nurses to fill staffing gaps. Nursing and midwifery vacancies in Scotland were at 6,200 at the end of March, according to the latest data.

The strike ballot, which runs until October 31, is one of many being held across the UK over coming weeks. On 6 October, the RCN will begin balloting members in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, urging them to strike over their respective government’s pay offer.

In England and Wales, the government’s pay increase offer is £1,400, or 4%. Nurses in Northern Ireland are yet to be offered a pay increase, but will still be included in the ballot.

Scotland’s health and social care secretary Humza Yousaf said the government is re-engaging with trade unions, with the aim of reaching a ‘satisfactory outcome’. ‘While we respect the mandate given to trade unions, I am disappointed they voted to reject the record 5% pay deal for NHS Scotland Agenda for Change (AfC) staff and are now holding ballots for industrial action,’ he said.


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