The Health Secretary has been urged to open pay talks with NHS Scotland staff, ahead of a planned protest by health and social care workers in Glasgow.
A demonstration at Glasgow Green on Saturday is planned in response to a UK Government pay rise announcement, which campaigners say excludes “a massive number of healthcare workers”.
With health devolved to the Scottish Government, Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon has called for pay talks to begin for Scottish workers.
Responding to a written question from Ms Lennon in July, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said she had asked NHS Scotland and unions “to work in partnership to examine options for arriving at pay settlements for both the immediate and longer term”, although a timetable has yet to be agreed.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s demonstration, Ms Lennon repeated her plea for pay negotiations to begin.
She said: “From consultant to cleaner, our NHS staff have served selflessly on the front line against Covid-19.
“For every life tragically lost, many more have been saved by the actions of our healthcare staff.
“They have been undervalued for too long and the Health Secretary should commit to pay talks for NHS workers.
“Scottish Labour knows that valuing our healthcare staff, through fair pay and conditions, is crucial to tackling the NHS workforce crisis.
“Jeane Freeman should get round the table with health unions as soon as possible.
“Clapping for healthcare workers doesn’t pay their bills. Scotland must show our NHS staff the same commitment they have shown our country in its hour of need.”
Demonstrators attending the “NHS Workers say No!” protest have been asked to meet at the McLennan Arch at 11am and bring two-metre lengths of blue ribbon to demonstrate social distancing.
The description on the Facebook event’s page, which by Friday afternoon had almost 3,000 people expressing an interest in attending, said: “The recent government announcement of a pay rise for teachers, doctors, armed forces personnel and public sectors workers to ‘recognise their efforts on the front line’ excludes a massive number of healthcare workers.
“This announcement is a massive slap in the face, slapped by the hand that once clapped for us. The Government have taken advantage of us for far too long.”
Thousands are also expected to attend simultaneous demonstrations in London and other towns and cities across the UK.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on those working in our NHS, and we are hugely grateful for the extraordinary hard work, dedication, skill and commitment of all those working in NHS Scotland during this emergency.
“This year nurses in Scotland received a 2.95% pay rise as part of our three-year NHS Agenda for Change pay deal. This has meant a minimum 9% pay increase for most staff, and with some of those still moving up their pay scale seeing increases of up to 27%. This is in excess of the 2.8% uplift announced for NHS dentists and doctors in England and Scotland.
“We have regular engagement with staff and unions, where all issues related to NHS staff terms and conditions are discussed. As we are now in the last year of the three year deal, we are working with NHS unions to agree a timetable to secure a new pay deal for 2021-22.”