Emergency talks held in bid to resolve pay dispute and end bin strikes

Unions are calling for a better pay offer to be made to workers.

Emergency talks held in bid to resolve pay dispute and end bin strikes STV News

Emergency talks are being held in an attempt to resolve the pay dispute which has seen cleansing workers strike across the country.

On Wednesday, bin strikes began in a further 13 Scottish local authorities following action taken in Edinburgh.

Unions have rejected a revised pay off of 5% from COSLA – the body which represents councils in Scotland.

They are calling for a higher offer to be made to help workers cope with the rising cost of living.

Deputy first minister John Swinney has urged local authority leaders to engage in talks to resolve the issue.

COSLA resources spokesperson, councillor Katie Hagmann, said the body has “done everything possible” to put forward the best offer it can.

“As council leaders have said consistently – we absolutely value and are grateful to our workforce,” she said.

“We fully understand that our trade union colleagues want the best possible deal for their members – especially given the concerns many within our workforce have around the cost of living crisis we are currently facing.

“That is why we as employers have done everything possible to put the best offer we can to them in the context of the extremely challenging financial circumstances Scotland’s councils have been and are continuing to face.”

Hagmann claimed that the offer amounts to one of the best offers “in decades” for local government workers.

“The reality of this new offer is that the lowest paid 12% of our workforce will get more than a 5% increase meaning that those on the Scottish Local Government Living Wage will see an overall 7.36% increase,” she said.

“This amounts to one of, if not the best offer in decades for Scottish local government workers during some of the most trying times for councils to continue to deliver the everyday essential services that our communities rely on.

“It is an offer made in good faith, which as far as we can in the current circumstances, tries to ensure that our lowest paid workers are protected from the cost of living crisis, raising the minimum hourly rate for the lowest paid within the workforce to £10.50 per hour.

“It seeks, as far as possible, to ensure sustainable long term secure employment. On that basis we look forward to continuing constructive discussions with our trade union partners.”

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer, said: “Constructive talks have now finished involving the trade unions and the deputy First Minister, John Swinney.

“The trade unions were informed that the DFM would now engage COSLA on a mechanism which could facilitate funding but that this would not come directly from the Scottish Government.

“It would include examining fiscal flexibilities and areas of ring-fenced funding. We acknowledge that this is movement but there is no new offer on the table and the strikes continue.

“The trade unions are requesting that the Scottish Government directly engage in these negotiations involving COSLA and ourselves in an effort to resolve this dispute.”

Johanna Baxter, UNISON head of local government said: “We have held detailed constructive talks with Deputy First Minister this evening at St Andrews House.

“We welcome that he listened to UNISON concerns and was keen to explore how he could support getting council pay talks pay back on track. 

“We were clear that we need to rethink not only the construction of the pay offer, so that those on the lowest incomes are fairly treated, we also need to explore ways in which we can increase the overall cash available to come to a fair offer. 

“There was a general agreement that only two negotiating meetings in eight months on pay was not acceptable, and better processes need to be put in place to facilitate finding speedier solutions on pay. 

“Although we do not have an offer today UNISON will continue to work with the deputy First Minister and COSLA to find a way forward towards a solution that benefits all our members.”  

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