Midwife union to consult members on latest Scottish Government … – Nursing Times

‘This is a situation that cannot go on indefinitely’
02 December, 2022 By
The Royal College of Midwives has announced that it is consulting its members in Scotland on the latest pay offer made late last week by the Scottish Government.
The RCM said that its online consultation on the pay offer was opening today and would close on Thursday 15 December. Its council has recommended that members accept the deal.
“Our governing board is recommending acceptance of the offer, but it is now down to our members to decide”
Jaki Lambert
The college’s leaders stated that, while short of what it wanted for some members, the offer currently on the table was the best that could be achieved through negotiation with ministers.
Last month, the Scottish Government put forward what it claimed was its “best and final” pay offer for NHS staff, which would see them receive an average 7.5% uplift.
Specifically, the pay offer would mean that staff working on Agenda for Change contracts would receive pay rises ranging from £2,205 to £2,751, depending on their pay band.
The new offer was made by the Scottish Government on 24 November, following pay negotiations with health unions during the preceding few days.
The previous offer for 2022-23 had been an across-the-board £2,205 pay increase for all health service staff in Scotland.
The new deal would see improved pay increases of between £2,450 and 2,751 for those working between Band 5 and Band 8A. Those in other bands will still receive the previous pay offer of £2,205.
It also includes a “package of progressive measures to promote staff and patient safety, support long-term workforce sustainability and to recognise the breadth of skills and experience of NHS Scotland staff”.
Among the measures is a review into reducing the working week to 36 hours, with no loss of pay, a commitment to review the job Band 5 descriptions and protected learning time for specific groups.
Unison Scotland’s health committee has already begun balloting members on the new offer and has recommended that they vote to accept it. The ballot will close at 5pm on Monday 12 December.
Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing will begin a ballot on the offer on Monday, which will close at midday on Monday 19 December. It has made no recommendation to members on how to vote.
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The RCM – which represents most midwives and also maternity support workers in Scotland – said that, while the latest offer was an improvement on the last, it “falls far short of what was asked”.
This was “especially the case for those skilled and experienced midwives on higher pay bands who are the backbone of maternity care in Scotland”, said the college in a statement.
The RCM said the offer would “make a substantial difference” to the pay of maternity support workers and midwives at the start of their career and several major improvements in other areas.
It highlighted the continuation of overtime payments for senior midwives making a significant difference to their pay and retaining enhanced mileage allowances for staff using their cars for work.
It also noted “firm promises” from the government on protected time for staff to undertake ongoing education and training, and the plans to reduce the working week to 36 hours with no loss of earnings.
In addition, the college flagged a commitment in the deal from ministers to begin pay negotiations early for next year.
The RCM said it would these talks to push to increase its members’ pay further to counter the rising cost of living and previous years of pay freezes and stagnation.
Jaki Lambert, RCM director for Scotland, said the “determination” of midwives to raise their voices and make a stand had brought ministers back to the negotiating table, resulting in the new offer.
“It is better for some of our members but does fall short of what we want for our experienced midwives,” said Ms Lambert, in reference to the current deal on the table.
“However, it has taken us a step forward towards getting what our members rightly deserve and is a firm base on which to move forward and improve it further for next year,” she said.
She added: “It is the best that can be achieved through negotiation, and it is important that our members now have their say.
“Our governing board is recommending acceptance of the offer, but it is now down to our members to decide.”
Ms Lambert noted that the present situation was about “much more than pay” and was also about “investing in Scotland’s maternity services and its staff”.
“The deal shows firm intent from the Scottish Government on this, and we are taking them at their word that they will come good on their promises,” she said.
“Make no mistake though, our members have shown they are prepared to take action to stand up for fair pay, for a better working environment and for better maternity services.”
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