Unite Scotland has today (12 June) demanded that the Scottish government re-open NHS pay talks as the country’s health workers put their lives on the line during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The NHS pay order of August 2018 allowed for pay talks to be re-opened through a trigger clause, which Unite says must now be used due to the ongoing pandemic and the pay disparity which exists among public sector workers. Over 60% of NHS Scotland staff who are at the top of their pay band have been paid less than our other public sector workers over the three-year period. 

The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman MSP, has offered to start negotiations on future pay, however, to date she has refused to use the trigger clause despite a plea by Unite to reassess NHS Scotland pay immediately.  Unite along with the whole trade union movement is also asking for an immediate £2 an hour rise for all key workers.

James O’Connell, Unite regional officer said: “Two years ago Unite’s members working for NHS Scotland accepted a deal following years of austerity and pay restraint. We viewed this as a start in the process of trying to make up for the years our members have struggled within a rigid pay policy."

“The pay award in 2018 expressly allowed for talks to be re-opened if the circumstances changed, and also if NHS Scotland workers were financially disadvantaged compared to other public services. It’s clear that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed absolutely everything and all public service workers deserve a pay rise.

“We are bitterly disappointed that the Cabinet Secretary has refused to re-open pay discussions and Unite will now canvass our thousands of NHS Scotland members in the coming weeks about what future pay looks like taking into account all of these factors."