The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is one of several major unions to call on its members this week to reject the Scottish government’s recent 5% pay rise deal.
The trade union, which represents those in the profession of nursing, said the offer “fails to recognise the safety critical role of nursing” and “fails to address the significant increase in cost of living and years of below inflation pay awards.”
Members will be asked about the acceptability of the pay offer and their willingness to take industrial action, up to and including strike action, if the majority of members vote to reject the offer.
Julie Lamberth, chairwoman of the RCN Scotland Board, said six in 10 RCN members in Scotland are considering leaving their job, and 86% have told her staffing levels are not sufficient to provide safe and effective care.
“Stick on top of all that the skyrocketing cost of living, from petrol to food to energy prices, and the argument for an above-inflation pay increase for our hard-pressed nursing staff is more compelling than ever,” she said.
The 5% pay rise deal, which would apply to nurses, paramedics, allied health professionals and healthcare support staff, is the largest pay rise to be offered to NHS workers since devolution.
But in recent days union leaders have repeatedly said the increase needs to go further.
On Thursday UNISON Scotland’s health committee, which represents the health workers in the union, recommended their members also turn down the offer.
Ms Lamberth said: “Just over one year on since we consulted RCN members in Scotland on an NHS pay offer, it feels like nothing very much has changed.
“We are all more exhausted and long-standing issues such as low staffing levels, record vacancy levels and more colleagues off sick continue to take their toll.”
She added: “We believe the nursing profession deserves fair pay that recognises our contribution, supports retention and recruitment to ensure patient safety and compensates for the failure of salaries to keep up with the cost of living over the last 10 years.
“We are recommending our members reject this offer.”
In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the RCN is recommending members reject this offer which, if accepted, will be the biggest single year pay rise NHS Agenda for Staff have seen since devolution, and will ensure that our staff continue to remain the best paid in the UK.”