The RCN has argued that larger, immediate pay rises were needed after the Scottish Government announced a small ‘interim’ wage increase for NHS staff yesterday.
The 1% boost for Agenda for Change workers north of the border comes ahead of the delayed 2021/22 negotiations, expected to be concluded in the coming months. Both payments will be backdated to 1 December 2020.
It will benefit 154,000 Agenda for Change staff including nurses, paramedics, healthcare support staff and allied health professionals in Scotland, and will enter salaries from March.
But Susan Aitkenhead, RCN director for Scotland, said the interim rise is ‘not the substantive pay award our members are looking for and does not recognise their contribution’.
She continued: ‘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 that the ‘unexpected’ salary hike was ‘imposed’ rather than negotiated through talks with the RCN and other health unions.
She explained: ‘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.’
Formal pay negotiations, usually effective from 1 April, were put on hold this year after the UK Government’s Autumn Budget was scrapped because of the Covid-19 pandemic and replaced with a Spending Review in November 2020.
Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman said that the Government remains ‘committed to securing a pay settlement that is fair, affordable and sustainable’ – but is ‘conscious’ of the wait before the 2021/22 Agenda for Change negotiations conclude.
She continued: ‘We want to agree the full pay settlement negotiations as quickly as is practicable. This interim step, alongside the one-off £500 bonus, should make clear that we want to support our staff regardless of the impact of the UK Government’s delay to the budget.’
Health and social care staff in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland received a £500 bonus because of their work during the Covid-19 pandemic, in February this year in Northern Ireland, and November 2020 in Wales and Scotland.