SCOTLAND'S largest health union announced on Tuesday that its NHS members have rejected the Scottish Government’s final offer on pay.

The announcement from Unison follows a two-week consultative ballot which saw 61% of members vote to reject the pay rise.

The current offer ranges from a 2% rise for the highest paid in band 9, to an 11.32% rise for the lowest paid in band 1.

Unison Scotland’s health committee will meet this week to discuss its next steps, the union said.

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Wilma Brown, chair of Unison's health committee, said members had “voted in their thousands and their message is loud and clear”, adding that the Scottish Government’s pay offer “just isn’t good enough”.

She continued: “Ministers need to understand the anger of health staff who are working in an under-funded, under-staffed NHS. These are unprecedented times and NHS staff are struggling to make ends meet.

“This should be a massive wake-up call to the Scottish Government. They need to come back to the negotiating table with an improved offer or prepare themselves for the first strikes in the NHS since devolution.”

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said he was “disappointed” by the decision of the union’s members, adding that the “record pay rise” ensured “the lowest paid receive the highest uplift”.

He continued: “I have always stressed that dialogue is essential and I reiterated my commitment to ongoing discussions to avoid strikes to trade unions just last week.

“The pay rise on the table for NHS Scotland staff would be the largest since devolution – benefiting more than 160,000 employees it would mean NHS Scotland nurses would remain the best paid in the UK.

“I remain grateful to all our health and social care staff and we had to make difficult decisions in order to offer a record pay rise as we try to meet the challenge of recovering from the pandemic and the backlog of care needed.”

Matt McLaughlin, Unison Scotland’s head of health, said: “Nobody wants to take strike action but without an improved pay offer, our members will be left with no choice.

“The ball is the Scottish Government’s court. We are calling on Humza Yousaf to come forward with an improved offer so our dedicated health workers can get on with delivering services.”

This follows news from earlier this month that the Royal College of Nursing voted to take industrial action for the first time in the trade union’s 106 year history – a strike that will cover nurses across the UK.

The union represents close to half a million nurses, with all NHS employers in Scotland being affected by the decision.