Council strike action set to go ahead as talks fail to resolve dispute

Talks were held on Tuesday between unions and COSLA.

Council strike action involving waste and school staff set to go ahead as talks fail to resolve dispute iStock

Talks aimed at resolving a pay dispute involving local authority workers have broken down.

School and early years staff will join refuse workers in taking industrial action over three days in September after no agreement was reached.

Workers represented by the Unison and GMB organisations will walk out on September 6, 7 and 8.

A meeting was held between the unions and local government body COSLA on Tuesday.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland’s head of local government, urged the deputy first minister John Swinney to put additional funding in place for councils.

“It was a very long meeting but unfortunately there has been no breakthrough and we are a long way from a pay offer that we would be able to recommend to our members,” she said.

“COSLA negotiated within the cost envelope that leaders mandated them but that simply isn’t enough and goes nowhere near matching the pay offer provided to council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“The only thing that both parties could agree on is that we need the urgent intervention from the deputy First Minister to put additional funding in place and both will be writing to the deputy First Minister to that effect today.”

Waste workers in Edinburgh are already in the midst of 12 days of strike action and will be joined by colleagues from a slew of other councils in the coming weeks.

Workers represented by the Unite union in Clackmannanshire have called off previously announced industrial action.

Around half of Scotland’s 250,000 council workers are earning less than £25,000 a year for a 37-hour week. 

Unite industrial officer, Wendy Dunsmore added: “Unite has rejected outright the 5 per cent pay offer and strike action across 14 councils will go ahead. It’s a sad indictment that council workers in Scotland are being offered substantially less than their counterparts in England.

“The cold hard reality is that inflation and energy costs are soaring – and they are predicted to rise even higher. The 5 per cent today will not be worth the same in a matter of months when the cost of living crisis will bite even harder. The offer on the table just doesn’t help the lowest paid make ends meet.

“This dispute will continue to escalate to a point where it could now go beyond the winter causing months of massive nationwide disruption. The blame for this will lie squarely at the doors of COSLA and the Scottish Government.”   

A COSLA Spokesperson said: “We met with our trade union colleagues earlier today.

“It was both a constructive and a productive meeting and a new firm offer has now been put to them.

“It is our hope that they will now take this offer away and consult their membership on it.”

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