Nicola Sturgeon has condemned the “miserly” pay deal being offered to NHS workers in England – as she insisted the SNP in Scotland will “build a country fit for the heroes” of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Scottish Government has announced plans to offer more than 154,000 NHS staff north of the border a pay rise of at least 4%.
The deal, which could benefit workers such as nurses, paramedics and hospital porters, was revealed as the Scottish Parliament went into recess ahead of May’s election.
First Minister Ms Sturgeon, speaking as campaigning began ahead of the poll, said: “Politics is about choices, and the SNP chooses to back our NHS.
“In this election we can build a country fit for the heroes who have kept us going every day through the pandemic.
“We have to do more than clap for the people who look after us – we should give them fair pay for the work they do. That starts with a fair deal for our NHS staff.”
The pay offer from the Scottish Government – which has been backdated to December 2020 – would see those on salaries below £25,000 receiving increases of more than £1,000.
It comes on top of the £500 “thank-you payment” to health and care workers in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic.
Ms Sturgeon said: “This pandemic has shown us that every member of NHS staff is vital to the delivery of the service – we value our porters and cleaners just as we value our nurses and doctors.
“That’s why we believe all Agenda for Change staff should get a fair pay rise to recognise the enormous contribution they have made to keeping us safe in the last year.
“The Tories’ miserly 1% pay offer south of the border shows that they have the wrong priorities – people will no doubt wonder how they can find the money to massively increase their stockpile of nuclear weapons or build a bridge to Northern Ireland but refuse to find the money to properly reward those who were at the frontline of the pandemic.”
Jackie Mitchell, of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This offer of a 4% pay rise for our hardworking members in Scotland is good news. Midwives and all maternity staff thoroughly deserve a decent pay rise, as do all NHS staff across the UK.
“We are pleased that these negotiations have happened before the elections take place is Scotland and shows us that the Government values the hard work and commitment of our members.”
Willie Duffy, head of health for the Unison trade union in Scotland, said it would meet on Friday to decide how to consult with members over the offer.
He added: “This past year has highlighted the dedication, skill and sacrifices that all NHS staff make. Their contribution must be recognised in their pay packets.
“However, the final decision on whether to accept this offer lies with Unison members and we look forward to consulting them in the coming weeks.”