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Unison advises nurses to accept 4% pay offer



Scotland’s largest NHS union Unison has recommended its members accept the 4% pay rise offered by the Scottish Government.

Unison announced it will ballot members between 15 April and 5 May on the offer for NHS workers on Agenda for Change contracts in Scotland – and is recommending members vote to accept the pay rise, which would see the majority of NHS workers receive a wage boost of at least 4%.

The union warned that if staff do not accept the offer, there can be no more negotiations until a new government is in place in May. That administration, Unison pointed out, will not be facing upcoming election pressure so it would take ‘sustained and substantial industrial action’ to bring it back to the table to discuss another pay deal. 

It also said the offer is ‘substantially higher than public sector pay deals achieved recently’, adding that it believes ‘this is the best offer that can be achieved through negotiation’.

The RCN has instead pushed for a 12.5% wage boost and GMB Scotland for 15%, with members from both unions advised to reject the proposal.

The Scottish Government has said the offer would give more than 154,000 staff in Scotland at Agenda for Change bands 1 to 7 at least a 4% pay boost – including nurses, paramedics and allied health professionals, as well as non-clinical staff such as porters.

Staff on the lowest pay point would get a 5.4% pay rise, meaning those earning under £25,000 would get a minimum increase of £1,000. Those on the highest pay points would receive an extra £800. On average, a frontline nurse will receive an extra £1,200 a year.       

Pay deals are usually effective from April, but the Scottish Government said the 2021/22 settlement will be backdated to December 2020 after ‘an exceptional year of significant pressure for staff’.

It follows the UK Government’s proposed 1% pay rise for NHS workers in England, which drew backlash from nurses

Scotland has also offered a £500 bonus to health and social care staff on top of any pay rise. This leaves England the only country in the UK not to have issued a one-time bonus.