UNISON holds constructive talks with health secretary on reopening NHS pay deal 

UNISON today (Tuesday) met with Cabinet Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman to urge the minister to reopen pay talks in a meeting described by the union as ‘constructive’.

The meeting follows a day of socially- distanced demonstrations by UNISON members across Scotland as part of the union’s Pay Up Now campaign calling on fair pay for NHS workers.

The demonstrations caught the attention of the health secretary who heard directly from a number of UNISON members who shared real stories of what it’s like working at the heart of the COVID pandemic and the impact years of real-terms pay cuts have had on them.

NHS workers have suffered a real-terms pay cut over the last decade with significant extra costs as a result of the pandemic including: extra childcare costs due to working extra shifts; extra transport costs because of restricted public transport; extra costs due to isolating from family; and even extra laundry costs as well as buying personal PPE.

Tam Waterson, chair of UNISON Scotland’s health committee, said: “Our members should be proud of themselves today for turning out in force to show the strength of feeling among the country’s health workers. These are just ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances who have gone above and beyond to keep us all safe.

“Their voices have not gone unheard and the health secretary said she has taken their concerns on board and is open to exploring all available options. UNISON has been clear that we need to move quickly to reopen pay talks this year and ensure our dedicated NHS workers receive the recognition and pay they deserve.”

Willie Duffy, UNISON Scotland’s head of health, said: “The dedication and commitment of our NHS workers during this pandemic have been nothing short of heroic. The least they deserve is our recognition and fair reward for everything they have done, and for everything they continue to do to keep us all safe.”

Further information:

Tom Waterson, chair of health committee: 07753 627 575
Willie Duffy, head of health: 07904 342 129
Trisha Hamilton, communications officer: 07943 507 307 t.hamilton@unison.co.uk