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Vote against nurse pay rise an “insult” says Scottish Labour

Labour MSP Anas Sarwar.
Labour MSP Anas Sarwar.

A vote against a pay rise for nurses has been described as “an insult” by Scottish Labour.

Party health spokesman, Anas Sarwar, pledged to scrap the cap on public-sector pay that limits rises to a below inflation 1% in a Holyrood debate.

Labour claims nurses have seen their wages fall by an average of £3,400 in real terms since 2010 as a result of the cap.

Mr Sarwar said: “This is an insult to NHS staff whose hard work and goodwill keep our health service running.

“The SNP has voted against giving NHS staff a pay rise, even though the SNP pay cap has meant real-term cuts to wages of NHS workers.

“The choice in this election is now clear – a Labour party fighting for better wages and a stronger NHS, or the SNP who will fight for another independence referendum that Scotland doesn’t want.”

The Scottish Government responded it had consistently implemented the recommendations of the UK’s NHS Independent Pay Review body and passed on recommended pay uplifts in full in Scotland, unlike other parts of the UK.

Health Secretary Shona Robison claimed nurses continue to be better off under the SNP than in Labour-run Wales or in Tory-run England.

Ms Robison said the salary for a Band 5 nurse – the starting point for nurses – is £312 higher in Scotland than in England and Wales.

She added she would work with unions to assess the impact of pay restraints and was willing to consider alternative approaches to pay negotiation.

Conservative MSP Donald Cameron said: “We all want our NHS staff to be properly paid but at this point in time, these benches cannot support an end to the cap, partly due to tight budgets and multiple rising budgetary pressures.

“We believe that, for the time being, staff should continue to receive a 1% pay rise and should be supported in other non-financial ways.”

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