The Scottish Government made their first pay offer on the 15th June 2022, advising that they had committed £342 million to fund a 5% rise for all AfC staff. This included any Barnett consequentials flowing from a pay settlement in the rest of the UK.
Consultative surveys of TU members produced an overwhelming rejection of this initial offer, as a result of which, the Scottish Government made an improved offer of 7% on pay bill.
This improved offer was similarly rejected and – with many members of staff side armed with industrial action mandates, pay negotiations formally opened again on the 22nd of November.
The majority of staff side negotiators were strengthened by industrial action mandates, with two staff side unions having intimated dates for action.
Negotiations were long and intense, continuing into the late hours, with further amendments being sought right up until the final offer was formally released at 5pm on the 24th of November.
The offer can be viewed here
The Society of Radiographers have considered the offer and your Representatives have agonised over a possible recommendation.
Representatives were angry and felt deeply let down by the Scottish Government’s failure to adequately recognise your worth.
Your representatives feel they cannot endorse the Offer. However, they also feel that the consequences of rejection are such that each member needs to be fully advised of the challenges rejection would pose.
They have therefore asked that you be provided with all relevant information so you can make your own decision to accept or reject the offer.
You are asked to carefully consider the offer against all available information contained within this briefing.
Thereafter you will shortly receive a link which will take you to SoR’s consultative survey.
The survey will run from the 2nd Dec 2022 to the 16th Dec 2022 [2 weeks].
We triggered the industrial action ballot as leverage – the mandate you gave us strengthened our negotiating hand. We have now exhausted that negotiating leverage. What is left is to assess whether we believe taking strike action would deliver more.
Strike action is never undertaken lightly. It is taken when the negotiation process has been exhausted or when negotiation has either not commenced or has commenced in bad faith. We strike when we are convinced an employer is holding out on us – that they have not been honest or open about the monies available.
As a collective, staff side negotiators felt that the Scottish Government was latterly, both open and honest and that there is no additional money to be found to fund a higher pay rise for this pay year.
We know that many of our members cannot absorb the personal financial hit that would be delivered by prolonged industrial action – and following the last round of negotiations we understand we would be looking at prolonged or indefinite strike action with further industrial action ballots and with no guarantee that additional monies could be found.
We know that this is a one-year deal that takes us to 31st March 2023. That means we are very shortly due to enter the next round of pay talks.
We know there are obvious problems with the pay structure which this fresh offer does not address. But this deal was never about reform – and just as it has taken more than a decade for us to get to such an unsatisfactory and damaging situation (where differentials between incremental steps and between pay bands are acting as disincentives and are demoralising staff), it will take more than a one-year deal to unpick the difficulties.
We know that some sister Trade Unions are already strongly urging their members to accept the deal.
We also know that proceeding to strike action is a serious decision – one that will impact on our members’ finances and on the service itself.
And we know, that for some, the loss of one day’s salary for strike action would be equal to around 0.6% of their overall annual income (calculation based on a Band 6 basic wage of £33k – with strike action occurring on a 12 hour shift day).
We are asking you to carefully consider the situation we now find ourselves in – and to ask yourself:
Q: I am angry and feel that this fresh offer is not enough. Would industrial action deliver more money?
A: Your National Officer was a member of the STAC Staff side negotiating team. She advises that negotiations were challenging.
Negotiators were addressed by the First Minister who underlined the financial difficulties the Scottish Government face. The FM appeared both open and honest. At the outset of the negotiations, the FM made reference to the fact that any additional funds which could be identified would come as a consequence of cuts being made to budgets elsewhere - negotiators accepted this reference was not threat but fact. When negotiations closed the FM was very clear that the Accountable Officer (the Permanent Secretary for Scotland, John-Paul Marks) would not authorise any more than what was now being offered. She advised that there was no more additional money to be found; there was no cash being hidden as she did not believe in ‘playing games’; and she was clear that striking would not produce any more cash. It is therefore the informed belief of your National Officer, the Scottish Representatives’ Forum and Scottish Council that this offer represents the best that can be achieved via negotiation and in the current circumstances.
Q: What is the Offer and what would it mean for me?
A: The SG has increased the pay bill by 7.5%, taking the amount committed for a pay rise from £342 million to £513 million. This Offer is tapered and weighted towards the first four pay bands. Allowances and
RRPs which increase in line with pay uplifts will also be uprated by 7.5%.
Q: It is insulting that only nursing job profiles are to be reviewed. Why are all Band 5 job profiles not being reviewed?
A: The clause was inserted at the request of those unions representing nursing staff. This is a one year deal. Review of all job profiles is, in fact, necessary but will take a considerable time. If nursing profiles change this will have an inevitable impact on other job profiles as well. The SoR recognise problems with job profiles across all AHP grades. This is something SoR will be seeking as part of any settlement of next year’s pay.
Q: Yet again we face a situation where those in higher Bands are give insultingly low pay awards. When will our union do something about this?
A: We agree the practice of tapering % pay awards has to stop. We need highly paid staff across all Bands and a pay structure that is fit for purpose. The SG needs to value its NHS Leaders. The tapering practice has led to the erosion of pay differentials – to the point where there is little to no financial incentive to pursue promotion. There is a seriously negative impact on recruitment and retention. This will be a priority issue for us in the next pay claim.
Q: How on earth will they manage to reduce the working week to 36 hours? We don’t have enough staff as it is!
A: Reduction to 36 hours is the aim – but it will take time and planning to get there. Of course, if it had to be implemented before sufficient staff were recruited, it would mean that there was additional working time that fell to be treated as overtime.
Q: Who are our professional comparators? Who are our wages bench-marked against?
A: Generally, pay is benchmarked against other graduate and post-graduate professionals – with post-graduates expected to earn more than graduates.
Q: What happens if a majority of members in this consultative survey vote to reject the offer?
A: If members do reject the offer, we would approach the Scottish Government for further discussions, but as we set out elsewhere in this update, we don’t think significant additional money will be offered in this pay round. The SoR would then very carefully consider our position. There would be a number of options to consider, including potentially still taking industrial action.
Q: When will I receive my backpay?
A: We would anticipate that if a majority of health trade unions are instructed by their members to accept the offer, then the SG would implement it. That means that you would receive the pay rise in your pay packets at the same time as other AfC staff.
It is unlikely – given the time required for trade unions to consult with their members – that the rise will be processed until the January pay run at the earliest.
Q: How can I let my MSP know how angry and upset I am about this poor pay offer?
A: You can write to your MSP (find their email address here: Current and previous Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) | Scottish Parliament Website) If you need help or assistance to do this please contact your Rep and/or National Officer ([email protected])
Your Scottish Reps met on the 28th of November to consider the Offer.
After feeding back results of their own member soundings and following very full discussion, your Reps decided to issue a consultative survey without recommendation.
Please note, you can contact your local Rep or your National Officer (Yvonne Stewart, who can be Contacted via [email protected]) should you require any further information regarding any of the above.