Scottish midwives say yes to ballot on industrial action

on 12 August 2022 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Workforce Midwife Shortage MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Pay Midwifery Midwives Staffing Levels Government Scotland RCM Scotland Scottish Government NHS Scotland Scottish Maternity Services

Midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) working in the NHS in Scotland have overwhelmingly rejected the Scottish Government’s pay offer of 5%.

In the highest ever turnout for an RCM pay consultation in Scotland, almost 90 percent of RCM members who voted have indicated they now wish to be formally balloted on industrial action. The RCM says the high response rate is a real indication of how members are feeling, particularly as many midwives and maternity staff see any form of industrial action as a last resort.

The RCM has sought to reassure both maternity staff and women and families using maternity services that midwives and MSWs will not take any type of action that would put women or babies at risk. The College says that, should its members vote for industrial action, they will not ask members to break their code of conduct.

During previous strike action in 2014, the RCM maintained safe services and wish to assure women in using maternity services in Scotland that they can still expect the delivery of good quality care during any potential industrial action.


Commenting, Jaki Lambert, RCM’s Director for Scotland says;

“Our members have made their feelings clear: they want to be balloted on industrial action. Midwives and maternity support workers are feeling undervalued and frankly, they have had enough. The Scottish Government’s sub-par pay offer will be the final straw for many members already looking for the door. A 5% pay increase is way below inflation and is actually a real terms pay cut for our hard-working members. With inflation predicted to hit 11% this year and many of our members are already struggling with the rising cost of living and they feel they’ve had no other choice but to reject the Government’s pay offer.”

A recent RCM survey of midwives in Scotland has already shown seven out of 10 midwives are already considering leaving the NHS. A staggering half of respondents said they rarely had enough staff to provide safe care for women. The RCM says it has warned the Government that a below-inflation pay offer would further worsen the recruitment and retention issues blighting Scottish maternity services.

Jaki added:

“We are disappointed that the Government did not address any of the crucial issues we laid out in our pay claim. They cannot be surprised that members have reacted in this way. Our members now want to be balloted on industrial action and as their trade union that is what we are preparing to do. There is a real disconnect between what maternity services need and what resources are available to them in terms of staffing, role recognition and funding. Decent pay is also central to retaining midwives.

“It is only through the incredible determination, dedication, professionalism and with midwives often working additional hours for no extra pay that services are continuing to run. We cannot continue to run maternity services without significant investment and that includes investing in existing staff. Improving retention begins with paying staff what they are worth, a wage that enables them to cope with the rapidly rising cost of living.”

The RCM is set to launch a formal ballot on industrial action with all members working in the NHS in Scotland in the coming weeks.



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About the RCM

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team.  We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team