NHS strike ballot launched in first step towards industrial action

In the first steps towards taking industrial action Scotland’s health union UNISON will ballot 35000 NHS staff across Scotland to recommend they reject the Scottish government’s pay offer and vote to take strike action in the coming months. The NHS consultative digital ballot opens today (Monday) and closes on 8 August.

UNISON report that their members are angry and feel they are being taken for granted. UNISON say the Scottish government 5% pay offer is well below the rate of inflation – which is 10% – and it is deeply unfair as it will give those at top of the pay bands a pay rise of over £5,000 per year whilst those on the lower pay bands will get nearer £1000 per year.

This ballot is launched in the midst of a staffing crisis in the NHS, staff turnover is higher than ever, waiting lists are at an all time high and the NHS is facing real challenges to recruit. There are over 6000 nurse vacancies across Scotland. Staff report to UNISON that they are regularly left in wards working with staffing levels below minimum standards. Staff also report they are constantly worried they make mistakes, or fail to deliver basic patient care. The problems were building long before Covid, the pandemic has only exacerbated the issues.

Wilma Brown, chair of the UNISON Scotland health committee said: “NHS staff have been taken for granted, staff have endured over 10 years of real terms pay cuts only to be told by the Scottish Government that, yet again, they will have to accept a below inflation pay rise.

“NHS staff have family bills to pay, food, energy and petrol prices are rocketing. NHS staff are struggling to afford the price of fuel to get them to work. They need more than praise and platitudes from Government, they need a decent pay rise to support their families.

“A 5% pay increase across the board just doesn’t cut it and the Scottish Government need to understand how angry we are. UNISON are urging UNISON members to vote to reject this pay offer and indicate that they will take the very difficult decision to take industrial action, unless of course the Health Minister improves the offer on the table.”

• UNISON is the largest union in the NHS representing workers across the service
• Further information is on our NHS pay ballot campaign page
• Read the full Scottish government pay offer

UNISON contacts
• Wilma Brown, chair of UNISON health committee: 07974 027847
• Danny Phillips, communications officer: 07944 110664