NHS Scotland nurses set to vote on strike action
The Royal College of Nursing has begun balloting its members on industrial action as part of a dispute with the Scottish Government and NHS.
The RCN is the world’s largest professional organisation and trade union for nursing staff, with members in the NHS, independent and voluntary sectors, and boast over 40,000 members in Scotland alone.
The aim of the ballot is to establish what industrial action RCN members would be willing to take in support of their trade dispute with the Scottish government and NHS employers over pay.
RCN representatives agreed to conduct an indicative ballot after criticising “a lack of meaningful progress” from the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf, following the RCN’s decision to reject the Scottish Government’s pay offer earlier this year
Commenting on the launch of the ballot, Julie Lamberth, chair of RCN Scotland Board, said: “After 18 months of bearing the brunt of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic and a decade of being undervalued and under-resourced, more and more nursing staff are saying enough is enough.
“The Scottish Government and NHS employers need to stop paying lip service to the immense contribution nursing staff make to health and care services.
“They need to take very seriously our concerns about what’s happening now and what will happen in the future without effective action.
“We want to see effective measures to stop experienced staff walking away from their jobs, and a fair pay award that properly recognises our skills, expertise and level of responsibility and maintains nursing as an attractive career choice for the younger generation.
“The Scottish Government did improve the offer to senior staff on higher pay bands after pressure from the RCN but while that was welcome it's not enough.
“It’s a last resort and extremely difficult decision for nursing staff even to consider industrial action.
“It’s now up to RCN members to decide what the next steps will be.”
The ballot will be open until 12 noon on Monday 8 November.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “NHS Scotland nurses are the best paid in the UK, and the pay deal, which has been agreed by the majority of unions and NHS staff, is the biggest pay rise in 20 years and the best in the entire UK.
“We recognise the tremendous service our nurses have given during the pandemic, which is one of the reasons we provided a £500 bonus to them at the turn of the year that was in addition to their increased pay.
“The pay increase in Scotland was 4% backdated to December 2020, while in England and Wales the increase was 3% and was not backdated to December”
“The Health Secretary Humza Yousaf met with representatives from the RCN earlier this month and we continue to engage in constructive discussions.”