The Scottish government has made what it says is a “best and final offer” to NHS workers in a bid to avoid a series of crippling strikes this winter.
The government said the “record” wage offer would be the best in the UK and would see frontline workers receive pay increases ranging from £2,205 to £2,751. For the lowest paid, it is said to represent an increase of 11.3 percent, with an average increase of 7.5 percent.
The £515m package represents an extra £35m on top of the previous offer which prompted a number of unions including Unite, GMB and the Royal College of Nursing to vote for industrial action.
The action of the ambulance workers who had to start a job to rule on Friday was suspended last night while the new offer was presented to the affiliates. Scotland’s RCN, which had already stopped announcing strikes until it received an offer, said the deal remained “disappointing” but would consider it in the coming days.
The Scottish government said the new offer was made after negotiations between the Scottish government and NHS unions.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We have engaged tirelessly with union representatives in recent weeks, leaving no stone unturned to come up with an offer that addresses the key concerns of staff across the service.
“This latest best payment offer of over half a billion pounds underscores our commitment to supporting our fantastic NHS staff. A newly qualified nurse would see a pay increase of 8.7 per cent, with experienced nurses getting increases of between £2,450 and £2,751.
“We are making this offer at a time of extraordinary financial challenges for the Scottish Government.
“We have made the best possible offer to put money in the pockets of hard working staff and avoid strike action, in what is already going to be an incredibly challenging winter. If the offer is accepted, this salary increase will also roll back to April.
“Finally, I urge the UK Government to come back to the bargaining table with the unions. This deal has been shaped by the unions’ constructive approach and I hope their members will support it.”
While the Unite union suspended work to govern by its members in the ambulance service, the GMB union also confirmed that its members in the service would now not go on strike planned for Monday.
However, GMB Scotland Senior Organizer Keir Greenaway stated: “The reality is that this offer is staying below inflation for the vast majority of staff.”
He added that the offer “requires the consultation of our members, given the additional money presented by the government.”
But Greenaway said: “Whether our members believe it goes far enough to merit acceptance is another matter entirely after a decade of cuts in wages and services, and more than two years in the frontline response to covid. -19”.
James O’Connell, Unite’s chief negotiator for NHS Scotland, said his union believed “the improved offer deserves to be considered by our members across the NHS.”
“We appreciate the work, from all sides, that has gone into achieving this new offer and we acknowledge the direct involvement of the Prime Minister in helping to secure a further offer that could be put to our members for consideration,” he said.
The RCN in Scotland halted a formal announcement about the strike in Scotland while negotiations took place this week. RCN Scotland Board members will now consider the details of the offer in the coming days before deciding on the next steps.
Colin Poolman, Director of RCN Scotland, said: “This revised offer still falls short of our members’ expectations, which is disappointing, but the Scottish Government say this is their best and latest offer.
“As always, it is our members who will decide what happens next regarding the payment offer. The first step in that process is for our board to review the details of the offer. That will happen in the next few days. We will keep members informed about the board’s decision and what it means for the strike.”