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Unions deliver mixed verdict on Scottish NHS pay offer

GMB members reject three-year offer that other unions accept

UNIONS delivered a mixed verdict on the Scottish government’s three-year pay offer for NHS workers today.

Members of Unison, Unite and other health unions voted to accept an offer that would see a 9 per cent pay rise over the period for many workers.

But 98 per cent of GMB members voted against the proposed deal, as GMB Scotland organiser Karen Leonard described the deal as “unfair, unequal and commits members to reforms that are unknown.”

The Scottish government said its proposals will benefit 147,000 staff under the health services’ Agenda for Change pay system.

Workers earning under £80,000 will receive a rise of at least 9 per cent over the period, while those earning more will get a flat rate increase of £1,600 each year.

Scotland’s biggest health union Unison recorded 94 per cent of members in favour of the offer. It urged the Scottish government to sideline the NHS pay review body and negotiate directly with unions over pay and conditions.

Unison health committee chairman Thomas Waterson said: “The strong endorsement by Unison members makes it clear that we do not need to wait cap in hand for the pay review body. This institution as it stands is dead in the water.

“The Scottish government should commit now to develop negotiating structures in Scotland and allow us to self-determine on pay.”

Among Unite members, 71 per cent backed the offer. Unite regional officer James O’Connell said: “This was a complex pay deal which will deliver a well-deserved pay increase for our members.

“While we recognise the value of the offer to our members following years of austerity and pay restraint, we are not complacent.”

And 95 per cent of Royal College of Midwives in Scotland (RCM) were in favour.

RCM Scotland lead negotiator Emma Currer said it would mean “that midwives, maternity support workers and other hardworking NHS staff in Scotland can finally begin to recoup the losses they incurred after years of pay freezes, pay stagnation and uplifts well below inflation.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said she was delighted with the result, which amounted to the “highest health uplift in the UK.”

But Ms Leonard of GMB said: “The scale of support for the three-year interlinked offer among the memberships of our sister trade unions means it will be implemented across the [health service].

“GMB Scotland is bitterly disappointed by this because it is not a credible prescription for tackling the cuts.”

Scottish Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar described the result as a “hard-fought victory for NHS workers.”

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