A LEADING trade union is calling for a wage rise and free staff parking for healthcare workers in England as part of the next pay and conditions deal. 

The GMB – which represents tens of thousands of members working in the NHS and ambulance service – said there should be a flat pay increase of £1.50 an hour, which it calculated would mean a 13% rise for the lowest paid. 

But why aren't trade unionists calling for the same in Scotland? 

Scotland’s NHS pay is currently being progressed through negotiations between health unions and the Scottish Government. 

It is likely that an announcement will be made by the end of next month. 

In the pay deal for 2023 to 2024, healthcare staff were offered a pay rise of 6.5%, as well as a one-off payment between £387 and £939 depending on which band staff fell under. 

As part of the Scottish Budget, the Government announced plans to spend £19.5bn on the NHS and social care in 2024-2025 compared with £18.9bn in the previous year, an increase of 3.4%. 

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison (below) told MSPs that Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Budget statement generated only an additional £10.8 million for health spending in Scotland. 

The National: Shona Robison has spoken out against reports criticising her festive holiday

She said this was equivalent to running NHS Scotland for five hours. 

Strikes over pay conditions in NHS England have plagued the UK Government since November 2022, and are estimated to have cost more than £1.5 billion. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak responded by telling junior doctors that “we don’t have a magic money tree”, as they prepared to restart negotiations with ministers following the longest strike in the history of the NHS. 

There have been no NHS strikes in Scotland after junior doctors voted in August to accept a 17.5% pay increase over two years. 

This makes Scotland the only country in the UK which has not been impacted by NHS strikes. 

This isn’t pure coincidence – the Scottish Government has always taken a different approach to engaging with trade unions compared to Westminster.  

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act is the perfect example of this. Whilst the Act is now in effect in England – much to the objection of trade unions – the Scottish Government objected to the legislation. 

This comes as new figures revealed the number of NHS operations performed in December 2023 in Scotland increased by 4.2% from the previous year, with 18,823 operations carried out.

The future of Aberdeen University is in workers' hands

The result of a much-anticipated strike ballot is expected tomorrow at the University of Aberdeen.  

The ballot opened in a dispute over proposals to axe jobs in the university’s modern languages department, affecting the provision of French, Gaelic, German and Spanish.  

In December, the university court – the governing body at the University of Aberdeen – announced that single honours degrees in modern languages would be axed.  

The National: The research was carried out at the University of Aberdeen

The results of a consultative ballot by the University and College Union (UCU) Aberdeen branch found that 81% of members supported strike action, whilst 87% voted in support of action short of a strike.  

Consultative ballots are usually indicative of a formal ballot, so we can expect to see a similar result with tomorrow’s ballot.  

Depending on the result, the university's future may be in workers' hands.