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Midwives in Scotland vote to strike over ‘insulting’ pay offer

Midwives in Scotland have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action over what they described as an “insulting” pay offer from the Scottish Government.

In a turnout of 61% of eligible voters, more than 88% of midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) north of the border who are part of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) voted to strike.

Questioned on whether they are prepared to take industrial action short of a strike, 94.6% voted “yes”.

The RCM will begin balloting its members in England and Wales on pay on November 11, and it continues to consult its members on pay in Northern Ireland.

The Scottish Government’s recent offer was about a 5% pay increase for midwives and MSWs, which the union described as “insulting” and “derisory.”

The RCM said the latest deal, made late last week, “made no meaningful difference to the initial offer for most RCM members across Scotland” and was in fact “a reduction for many”.

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.

“This is though not a decision they will have taken lightly. Indeed, they will have taken it with very heavy hearts because they are committed to providing the best possible care for women, babies and their families.

“They will continue to do that even if we do move to take industrial action. There is though still time to avert that.

“I repeat our call to the Scottish Government to put a meaningful pay offer on the table that recognises the financial challenges our members face and gives them the pay award they deserve.”

The RCM said if strikes do go ahead, NHS employers in Scotland will be given notice of any type of industrial action to ensure there is adequate cover for work shifts.

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 represents an above-inflation 11% pay rise, and it will ensure our midwives and other AfC staff remain the best paid in the UK.”