NHS staff unions say they are ‘disappointed’ and ‘angry’ the Scottish government is pressing on with a pay rise for staff that was previously rejected.
Around 154,000 NHS staff are to receive an interim pay increase next month, backdated to the 1st December, “in recognition of an exceptional year of significant pressure,” Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said.
UNISON had been calling for a £2,000 pay increase for staff amid delays to pay negotiations that will now not conclude until summer at the earliest.
The Royal College of Nursing has been campaigning for a 12.5% pay rise for NHS nurses across the UK.
Willie Duffy, UNISON Scotland head of health said: “We are disappointed that the Scottish Health Secretary has made this announcement when UNISON had previously written to her rejecting this offer.
“UNISON is concerned about how this imposition may impact on any future pay negotiations with the Scottish government in 2021.
“We do not agree that NHS pay cannot be resolved until the summer of 2021. We are calling for pay negotiations to commence immediately.”
Mr Duffy added: “NHS staff need a pay settlement that recognises the sacrifice so many have made over the pandemic and starts to restore some of the real-terms pay cuts of the past decade and show how much the government values the role they play in Scotland.”
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) meanwhile says its members will be “angry and disappointed” at the announcement.
RCN Director Susan Aitkenhead, says Scotland’s nursing staff “deserve better”:
“Having stated publicly that they were in negotiations to “give NHS staff the pay increase they deserve”, the Scottish government has failed to open any meaningful negotiations with the Royal College of Nursing and the other health trade unions through the recognised processes.
“Our members will be angry and disappointed that the Scottish government is not willing to do more to value the skills and expertise of the nursing profession. They will not understand why they have to wait until the summer for negotiations to commence.”
Ms Aitkenhead added: “This is not the substantive pay award our members are looking for and does not recognise their contribution.
“Today’s unexpected announcement has been imposed rather than negotiated and we would ask the government to honour its commitment and enter into meaningful negotiations now.”
By Sarah Nimmo