Midwives in Scotland have overwhelmingly voted in favour of industrial action over the Scottish Government’s “insulting” pay offer.
The Royal College of Midwives in Scotland received a turnout of 61% of those eligible to vote – above the government’s 50% turnout threshold – in a ballot which closed on Thursday.
“Our members’ feelings on their pay and the derisory offer from the Scottish Government are patently clear”
Of those who voted, more than 88% of midwives and maternity support workers voted to strike.
Meanwhile, 94.6% said they would be prepared to take industrial action short of strike, by doing no more than the minimum required by the rules of their contract; often known as ‘working to rule’.
Should industrial action take place, NHS employers in Scotland will be given adequate notice, the RCM said.
Additionally, the RCM and its workplace representatives have said they will work with maternity service managers to ensure there is cover during any work stoppages across Scotland “so that safe care for mothers and babies is always prioritised”.
Initially, the Scottish Government had offered a 5% increase for NHS staff on Agenda for Change Contacts, which the RCM and other unions in the country rejected earlier this year.
After negotiations took place between unions and Scottish Government representatives, a new and final pay offer was put forward last week, which would see NHS staff receive a £2,205 uplift.
However, the RCM said the revised offer made “no meaningful difference to the initial offer”.
It added that “it is a reduction” for many midwives and MSWs, especially at a time of high inflation rates.
Jaki Lambert, director for Scotland at the RCM, said: “Our members’ feelings on their pay and the derisory offer from the Scottish Government are patently clear.
“It reveals their disgust at a massively below-inflation pay offer that goes nowhere near to catching up with inflation or makes up for years of pay freezes and pay stagnation.
“It shows that they feel just how little their dedication, commitment and skills are valued by this government. Our members have spoken, and they have said enough is enough.”
Ms Lambert said this is not a decision that members will have taken lightly, and that they will have done so “with very heavy hearts” because they are committed to providing the best possible care for women, babies, and their families.
She added there was “still time to avert” industrial action, repeating their call to the Scottish Government “to put a meaningful pay offer on the table” that recognises the financial challenges their members face and gives them “the pay award they deserve”.
Any decision to take industrial action must be approved by the RCM’s elected board and the union said it will now look at the result of the ballot and consider its next steps.
The RCM will begin balloting its members in England and Wales over pay on 11 November and said it continued to consult its members in Northern Ireland.
Other unions, including the Royal College of Nursing, have also been balloting their members across the UK on taking strike action over pay.
Meanwhile, yesterday the union Unison suspended its strike ballot in Scotland and said will now consult its members on the new pay deal offered to NHS staff in the country.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed to hear that the Royal College of Midwives have rejected this record pay offer and have voted for strike action.
“For the lowest paid, this offer represents an above-inflation 11% pay rise, and it will ensure our midwives and other Agenda for Change staff remain the best paid in the UK.”