Five unions have now declared, with Unite and Unison accepting and the Royal College of Nurses and the Royal College of Midwives joining GMB in rejecting the offer.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) says 65% of members voted against the pay deal, worth about 7.5% on average to staff. The union is now considering its next steps including possible industrial action.
The Royal College of Midwives is a professional membership organisation and trade union in the United Kingdom that represents midwives and other professionals working in maternity care. The RCM’s mission is to support and promote midwifery and the midwifery profession, and to ensure that midwives have the knowledge and skills they need to provide high-quality care to women and their families.
The RCM works to influence government policy on maternity care and to ensure that midwives have a strong voice in the development and implementation of policy. It also provides a range of services to its members, including professional development, support and advice, and representation on issues such as employment and pay.
The RCN, do much of the above but for registered nurses.
They said “an overwhelming 82% of members who voted rejected the offer in the consultative ballot which closed at midday on Monday”.
Commenting on the result, Julie Lamberth, RCN Scotland Board Chair, said:
“It was the right thing to ask our members whether to accept or reject this offer. It directly affects their lives and each eligible member needed to be given the chance to have their say. And the result could not be clearer – we have forcefully rejected what the Scottish government said is its ‘best and final’ offer.
“Make no mistake – we do not want to go on strike. Years of being undervalued and understaffed have left us feeling we have no alternative because enough is enough. The ball is in Scottish government’s court if strike action is going to be avoided.
Members can be reassured that planning for strike action will be thorough. The safety of patients and of our members are paramount and we will be working hard to ensure that while any strike action is disruptive, it does not put patients or our members at risk.”
Why did the other unions accept?
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.
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.”
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.
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