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25 May 2017, 05:56
NHS workers will call for an end to the 1% cap on their pay by protesting outside the Scottish Parliament with a giant ice sculpture.
Unison members and activists will invite Health Secretary Shona Robison to their smash the pay freeze campaign event on Thursday.
The union has also written to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) calling on it to give a commitment that its recommendations on the next pay round for staff will not be bound by the 1% cap on public-sector salaries.
The letter states: "Unison's 60,000 members working in NHS Scotland are angry because this is the fourth consecutive year the PRB have chosen to endorse the Westminster government's 'austerity' agenda, thereby imposing real-terms pay cuts upon dedicated, hard-working NHS staff and their families.
"The trade union's long-standing support for the PRB is being challenged by members who perceive that the PRB is providing cover for a politically-imposed 'pay cap' and ignoring the fact NHS wages have not kept up with the costs they experience.''
The letter notes that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon "seems open to consider a shift to collective bargaining in the NHS'' and the union will support the process most likely to result in "fair annual pay increases'' as staff say they are "struggling to make ends meet''.
Matt McLaughlin, Unison Scotland's head of health, said: "Unison is Scotland's largest health union and we see first-hand the impact of the pay cap on health staff.
"NHS staff have suffered a pay cap for the past four years and in that time have seen their take-home pay fall by a massive 14%.
"The sad reality is that hospitals will struggle to keep skilled workers unless they're rewarded with decent pay and it's patients who will suffer as a result.
"Our NHS depends on having a dedicated team of staff with the right training to deliver the best standard of care.''
The move follows a nurse challenging the First Minister on the pay cap during a TV debate on Sunday, claiming she had to use food banks due to the pay restraints.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We aim to maintain a good relationship with staff representative bodies in NHS Scotland and have offered to work in partnership to assess the impact of pay restraint, to inform the next round of submissions to the NHS Pay Review Body.
"We remain open to discussing issues of concern with Unison and others.
"In Scotland, we've applied the pay increases recommended by the independent NHS Pay Review Body again this year, supplemented by additional measures to assist the lowest-paid and the continuation of the no compulsory redundancy guarantee for all staff.
"This ensures that NHS Scotland nurses continue to be the best-rewarded and most secure in the UK - a Scottish nurse in the main grade (band five) is currently up to £312 per year better off than their counterparts in NHS England.''
A spokeswoman for the NHS Pay Review Body said: "The NHS Pay Review Body is a public body which is independent of government. It makes recommendations about the pay of NHS staff in the UK, including in Scotland.
"Decisions about the pay of NHS staff in Scotland rest with the Scottish Government.
"The NHS Pay Review Body submitted its latest report to the Scottish Government in March 2017.
"Its recommendations were informed by the evidence it received from the Scottish Government and from the trade unions representing NHS staff in Scotland.''