Blog: I urge members to make sure they have their say on pay

Scottish health members, together with those working for the Environment Agency, both provide vital services, which need to be properly funded

Christina McAnea

UNISON members working for the Environment Agency, together with Scottish health members, are being consulted on their respective pay offers.

If you’re an NHS worker in Scotland, you only have a few days left to have your say on the 5% pay offer. UNISON, along with other health unions, asked for an above inflation pay award, so we’re asking members to reject the pay deal.

For EA members, the consultative ballot that opened this week closes on 2 September. The agency is underfunded, and its workers are undervalued and underpaid.

I’ve said before that poverty is created by political choices – and pay is decided by choices too. Choices are made by the Cabinet Office about how much money the agency gets to protect the environment, support our communities and reward staff.

I urge our EA members to reject the insulting pay offer of 2% plus £345, which follows a 0% rise for most staff in 2021, which itself came after a decade of below inflation pay deals.

Unsurprisingly, workers in both the NHS and the EA are suffering from the cost of living crisis. Wages are thousands of pounds below where they would be now if they’d kept up with inflation over the last decade. Earning enough to live in the present and plan for the future is not a reality for most public service workers.

NHS and EA staff work in very different circumstances, but have the shared aim of protecting people’s health. Their work is interlinked, as a poor environment doesn’t support a healthy population. Losing staff because of poor wages and declining standards of living is a risk to everyone.

Our members are always key to delivering huge public programmes that benefit millions, whether it’s the COVID vaccine roll out, or huge flood defence improvement programmes. Their work is always 24/7.

Squeezing public sector budgets undermines the ability of both the NHS and the agency to protect people, support our communities, and reward staff to make sure experienced and skilled staff are retained.

The government needs to put its money where its mouth is and recognise the value to our society of having well-paid, well-resourced workforces able to deliver every day and ready to deal with crises when they come.

Until they do, we need to keep up the pressure and make sure every member responds to our consultations.

You will have received an email ballot, but if you haven’t, then contact UNISON Direct on 0800 0 857 857.