GMB are the third union to declare results after Unite and Unison. While Unison and Unite members voted to accept the offer (by 57 per cent and 64 per cent, respectively) on Monday, other unions’ consultative ballots are still running.
The union represents NHS ambulance staff, nurses, cleaners, porters and radiographers amongst others.
It is important to note that the NHS Scotland pay offer has not been formally accepted by Scottish Terms and Conditions Committee partnership organisation which exists to collectively negotiate terms and conditions for NHS staff unions.
According to a statement from GMB: “GMB workplace representatives are meeting this morning to discuss our union’s next steps. Today, we will write formally to the Cabinet Secretary Humza Yousaf MSP to confirm GMB’s rejection of the latest offer and request that he meet with our reps as a matter of urgency.”
The union also released the figures from their members’ ballot over the Scottish Government’s latest offer on pay and conditions. Accept stands at 33.90% and Reject at 66.10%.
GMB senior organiser for public service Keir Greenaway said:
“The result reflects our members views and the realities of this offer. It is still below inflation for the vast majority of staff, who worked through the depths of the pandemic and are struggling in the grip of this cost-of-living crisis, and it doesn’t go far enough in itself to confront the understaffing crisis affecting frontline services either.
“The Scottish Government has contrasted its approach on trade union engagement with that of the UK Government, so we are now asking the Cabinet Secretary to practice what he preaches by meeting our members this side of Christmas to continue discussions over their value and the sustainability of their services.
“The fact remains that GMB members in major services and health board areas have strong legal mandates for strikes and an imposition of this offer without further discussion would be seriously detrimental to the industrial relations the Scottish Government have been quick to promote. If the Cabinet Secretary wants to preserve those relations, he must meet our members urgently.”
Why did the other unions accept?
The risk of strike action in the health service by members of Unite and Unison has ended. However, we await results from Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members.
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, was quoted as saying:
“The improved offer for NHS Scotland workers which is worth over 11% for the lowest pay bands is a testament to the resolve of our members. They were prepared to take the difficult step in taking industrial action but only because they had no other option left. Unite makes no apologies for fighting for better jobs, pay and conditions in the health service because NHS Scotland workers should be fairly rewarded for the outstanding work that they do day in and day out.”
Wilma Brown, chairwoman of Unison’s Scotland’s health committee said:
“Whilst this decision ends the immediate threat of industrial action, it is not a win for government – it is a warning. It was far from a unanimous decision and many of the NHS professional grades feel badly let down. Almost half of Unison NHS staff voted to reject this latest pay offer, and many who did vote to accept, did so reluctantly.”
Last month, the Scottish government tabled an improved deal averaging 7.5% to health workers threatening industrial action. The offer will see most NHS staff in Scotland get a rise of just over £2,200 a year.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“We have engaged tirelessly with trade union representatives over recent weeks, leaving no stone unturned to reach an offer which responds to the key concerns of staff across the service. This offer of over half a billion pounds underlines our commitment to supporting our fantastic NHS staff. We are making this offer at a time of extraordinary financial challenges to the Scottish government to get money into the pockets of hard working staff and to avoid industrial action, in what is already going to be an incredibly challenging winter.”
When can we expect results from the other unions?
The CSP’s consultation closed yesterday, and results will come shortly. It had recommended its members accept the pay offer. As for the RCN, the union said the new deal “still does not meet our members’ expectations” with their ballot closing on 19 December.
The acceptance of the most recent salary offer by Unison and Unite members will be a significant source of relief for the Scottish government. However, that does not mean that the possibility of strike action in the NHS has vanished.