Nurses in Scotland balloted over 5% pay offer and willingness to strike – Nursing Times

‘This is a situation that cannot go on indefinitely’
13 July, 2022 By
Trade unions in Scotland have begun balloting nursing staff in Scotland over pay and to explore their appetite for industrial action.
The Royal College of Nursing opened a ballot yesterday to members working in NHS Scotland on Agenda for Change contracts, recommending that they reject the 5% pay award which has been offered by the Scottish Government for 2022-23.
“There has never been a more important time to fight for the pay that nursing staff deserve”
Julie Lamberth
It will also ask members whether they would personally be willing to take industrial action, up to and including strike action, in response to the pay offer.
Fellow union Unison launched its ballot on Monday and is recommending to its 35,000 members working in NHS Scotland that they reject the offer and vote in favour of industrial action.
Unite and GMB Union are also balloting members and advising them to turn down the Scottish NHS pay offer.
If nursing staff show support for industrial action in these consultative ballots, unions would need to conduct a further formal ballot before action could legally take place.
The launch of the ballots comes as a new poll showed a rise in public support for nursing staff taking industrial action.
The poll, carried out by YouGov for the RCN, showed that almost half (49%) of respondents said they were ‘very’ or ‘quite’ likely to support nurses taking industrial action over their pay, a 7% jump in support from May 2022.
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Chair of RCN Scotland Board, Julie Lamberth, said the pay offer was well below what nursing staff needed to recognise the role they play in delivering safe and effective care.
She added: “Nursing pay has been held below inflation for years and the spiraling cost of living has only worsened the impact of longstanding low pay.
“With staffing levels at crisis point and nursing vacancies at a record high, there has never been a more important time to fight for the pay that nursing staff deserve.”
“NHS staff have been taken for granted, staff have endured over 10 years of real-terms pay cuts”
Wilma Brown
If the pay offer is accepted, it would see all Agenda for Change staff paid at least £10.50 per hour and would involve a rise of slightly above 5% for those on band 1 and the first pay point in band 2.
However, Unison argued that the pay offer was “deeply unfair”, as it would give those in some higher pay bands a pay rise of £5,000 while those in lower pay bands would get nearer £1,000.
Wilma Brown, chair of the Unison Scotland health committee, said: “NHS staff have been taken for granted, staff have endured over 10 years of real-terms pay cuts only to be told by the Scottish Government that, yet again, they will have to accept a below inflation pay rise.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said it was “disappointed” that the unions were telling its members to reject the offer.
They said the 5% deal, if accepted, would be the “biggest single year pay rise NHS Agenda for Staff have seen since devolution, and will ensure that our staff continue to remain the best paid in the UK”.
In terms of staffing, they said Scotland had doubled its intake of nursing and midwifery students in the last 10 years and had recruited more than 1,000 additional healthcare support workers and almost 200 overseas nurses to try and ease pressures.
The RCN, Unison, Unite and GMB ballots will close on 4, 8, 1 and 5 August 2022 respectively.
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