2500 workers including Scottish Ambulance Service among those balloted

Unite the union can confirm today (6 October) that it has now launched a nationwide industrial action ballot involving thousands of NHS Scotland workers.

The trade union which represents workers in every pay band across the entire NHS Scotland structure is specifically targeting more than 2,500 workers across regional and national health boards in the ballots (see notes to editor).

Unite can confirm that its entire Scottish Ambulance Service membership including paramedics and call handlers will be participating in the industrial action ballot.

Radiographers will also be balloted across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde except those directly involved in cancer care provision at the Beatson and Breast Screening as part of measures to protect the service in the event of any industrial action.

Unite has slammed the Scottish Government for a failure to improve upon the initial – and only - offer on the table of 5 per cent. The offer was rejected by Unite four months ago in June.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The Scottish Government has refused to step up and back our health professionals with a decent and fair pay offer and Unite’s members across NHS Scotland are rightly angry.

“The heroes that we all applauded during the pandemic are being told to take a substantial real terms pay cut - yet another hit on NHS pay. When inflation is well into double-digits, 5 per cent just doesn’t cut it. NHS workers need to pay their bills and protect their families. Nobody wants to go on strike but they are being left with no choice now but to take a stand.

“Unite’s NHS Scotland members will have the full support of their union in their fight to secure better jobs, pay and conditions.”

 A number of major hospitals and health services involving Unite members will be covered by the ballots including:

  • Tradespeople and maintenance assistant workers in Raigmore Hospital Inverness.

  • Clinical Perfusionists, Theatre Assistants, Anaesthetic Nurses in the Golden Jubilee National Hospital.

  • Transport and logistics members at Ninewells Hospital.

  • Health Care Science Support workers in Blood Sciences at Monklands Hospital.

  • Decontamination Unit across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

  • Scottish Microbiology Reference Lab (West of Scotland).

The ballots will close by 4 November.

In a blistering criticism of the Scottish Government’s handling of the NHS pay dispute, Unite has accused the Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, of ‘sleep walking into winter’ - historically the seasonal period of greatest pressure put on NHS services.

James O’Connell, Unite industrial officer, added: “Unite is balloting thousands of our members across NHS Scotland. This includes our entire membership at the Scottish Ambulance Service as well as specifically targeted groups of workers in regional and national health boards.

“Our hard working and courageous NHS professionals deserve far more from the Scottish Government than a real terms pay cut. The Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, is sleep walking into winter when the greatest pressure will be placed on the health service.

If strike action comes this winter, then the blame for this unprecedented decision by our members will be laid fully at the door step of the Scottish Government.”

In August, Unite confirmed that its NHS membership rejected the Scottish Government’s 5 per cent pay offer, and supported strike action in a consultative ballot.

By 89 per cent thousands of Unite members voted to reject the current pay offer. 77 per cent also indicated that they would be prepared to take industrial action up to and including strike action.

The union says that the current pay offer represents a significant real-terms pay cut for health service workers when the broader cost of living has hit a forty-year high of 12.3 per cent.


Notes to Editor:

Regional and National Health Boards covered by the ballots include NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Golden Jubilee National Hospital, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Grampian, Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS Fife, NHS Highland, NHS Tayside, NHS Lothian, NHS Borders and NHS Lanarkshire.

For media enquiries please contact Andrew Brady on 07810157922.

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Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.