Schools could shut as union ballots workers for strike action over pay

Around 30,000 school staff are involved in the ballot which is being organised by UNISON.

Schools could shut as UNISON ballots workers for strike action amid pay dispute

The largest union in Scotland’s local authorities has launched an industrial action ballot of 30,000 school staff.

The announcement from UNISON comes amid a pay dispute for all council workers.

The vote will close on August 25 and, if staff vote for strike action, could lead to mass school closures across the country in September.

It comes after the union consulted the entire local government membership of 84,000 regarding a pay offer from COSLA, the governing body for local authorities.

This was a 5% increase from April 2023, plus an additional increase that varied depending on an individual’s salary payable from January 2024.

Members voted overwhelming to reject the offer by 87%.

Nine in ten (90%) of those who rejected the offer also voted in favour of taking some form of strike action to try to secure an improved wage increase.

Waste and recycling workers in Stirling and Perth and Kinross have already voted to take industrial action.

They will be walking out for four days from August 10 to 13.

School staff are now being balloted with the vote opening on Tuesday.

The union also say they will consider balloting other workers in the coming months.

UNISON Scotland head of local government, Johanna Baxter said: “COSLA’s offer falls short of UNISON’s pay claim, it is also less than the offer made to the lowest paid local government staff south of the border. And it would be a real-terms pay cut during the cost of living crisis.

“Despite efforts to move negotiations along, we’re now at an impasse. COSLA has refused to improve its pay offer, which UNISON members overwhelmingly rejected. It also says it doesn’t have the cash to offer more but is also refusing to ask the Scottish government for additional funding.  

“Council and school staff are fed up.  All school staff should look out for their ballots, which will arrive in purple envelopes, vote and post back as soon as possible.”

STV News has contacted COSLA for comment.

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