THOUSANDS of health workers in Scotland have voted in favour of industrial action in protest against a “real terms pay cut”.

NHS staff from four of Scotland’s unions have announced plans to strike after rejecting a 5% pay offer from the Scottish Government.

The Royal College of Nursing, Unison, Unite Scotland and GMB members have condemned the offer.

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Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said he was "disappointed" the pay offer had been rejected, but will "promptly" get back to the negotiating table. 

Meanwhile, midwives and maternity support workers have threatened to strike over the pay offer, the Royal College of Midwives has said.

Unite Scotland and the GMB have announced that NHS staff are “prepared to strike”.

GMB members rejected the pay offer by 97%.

Unite’s membership of NHS staff work in every pay band across the health service and voted to reject the pay offer by 89%. In a consultative ballot, 77% favoured a walkout.

The National: Sharon Graham said her members rejected the offer as it is effectively a pay cutSharon Graham said her members rejected the offer as it is effectively a pay cut

Sharon Graham, the union’s general secretary, said Unite’s NHS Scotland members rejected the pay offer as it represented a “substantial real terms pay cut” amid an inflation increase of 11.8%.

Union bosses have also highlighted the Scottish Government’s underspend of £650 million, announced in June.

They say it could be used to fund an improved wage offer for NHS staff.

The underspend is being carried over through the Scotland Reserve but it is to be exclusively allocated to support key priorities outside of the public sector for 2022-23.

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GMB Scotland organiser Karen Leonard said: “GMB members have sent a clear message that Government must do more to help them confront the cost-of-living crisis and avoid the prospect of more NHS staff slipping into working poverty this winter.

“More of our members are affected by debt, fuel poverty and hunger, while soaring inflation and energy bills means the real-terms value of this pay cut will get bigger with each passing month – there’s no doubt this crisis is turning into a catastrophe for many frontline staff and their families.

“If the minister wants to recruit and retain the people desperately needed to help our NHS recover from the peril it is in, then he must value these key workers better, and particularly those in the lowest pay grades who do not receive the biggest cash increases under this offer.

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“However, if these hard truths are not recognised and confronted then industrial action affecting NHS services looks inevitable in the months ahead.”

James O’Connell, Unite regional officer, said: “The mandate to move to an industrial action ballot from our NHS Scotland members is emphatic.

“These hard working and courageous workers really deserve far more from the Scottish Government.

“Instead, they are being forced into a position whereby the only way they are going to get a decent pay rise is through strike action.

“This situation is exclusively down to the Scottish Government because they are also hoarding a £650 million underspend.”

Scottish Health Secretary Yousaf said: "I am disappointed our record pay offer for NHS staff has been rejected. We will, promptly, get back round the table with trade unions, continue negotiations and hope to reach a satisfactory outcome."