School workers, janitors and cleaners back strike action over pay row

Pupil support staff along with catering and janitorial workers say they are being 'overworked and undervalued'.

Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow school workers and cleaners vote to strike in pay dispute iStock

Support staff at schools and nurseries across almost a third of Scotland’s local authorities have voted to strike in a pay dispute.

GMB Scotland members in cleaning, janitorial, catering and pupil support in ten councils across the country have backed industrial action.

The local authority areas involved are Aberdeen, Clackmannanshire, the Western Isles, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, Orkney, Renfrewshire and South Ayrshire.

The union said strikes will take place unless a breakthrough comes at last-ditch talks with council umbrella body COSLA on Wednesday.

More than 8,000 members from the around 21,000 workers the union represents in these areas voted for industrial action.

The ballot came after 94% of the members rejected the councils’ offer of a 5.5% in-year pay rise.

Meanwhile, council parking staff will walk out in Glasgow to support the pay claim this week, with the strike threatening to disrupt the UCI World Cycling Championships which starts in Scotland on Thursday.

Unions claim the strike of their members in parking services on Thursday and Friday could cause problems for the ten-day event, claiming illegally-parked cars could hamper cyclists and obstruct road races.

GMB Scotland’s senior organiser for public services, Keir Greenaway, said: “It is no surprise that our members are prepared to strike rather than accept an offer that is less than last year despite the costs of living being even higher.

“Our members have now spoken and COSLA should listen and arrive tomorrow with a fair offer and seize what is the final opportunity to avert industrial action.

“Whether it is our members voting to strike in schools or those in parking who will take action within days, council workers are sick of being overworked and undervalued.

“It is time for political leaders to show some leadership.”

A COSLA spokesperson said: “The reality of the situation is that as employers, council leaders have made a strong offer to the workforce. A strong offer which clearly illustrates the value councils place on their workforce, and it compares well to other sectors. It recognises the cost of living pressures on our workforce and, critically, it seeks to protect jobs and services.

“While the offer value in year is 5.5%, the average uplift on salaries going into the next financial year is 7%. Those on the Scottish local government living wage would get 9.12% and those at higher grades, where councils are experiencing severe recruitment challenges, would see 6.05%.”

He said the offer commits to working with unions to develop a “road map” to a Scottish local government living wage of £15 an hour, up from the £11.84 in the proposal and the current rate of £10.83.

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