Schools set to close as council staff vote for strike action over pay

Workers in education and early years services have voted to strike across ten local authority areas, Unite have confirmed.

Council workers have voted for strike action in an “escalating” dispute over pay.

Thousands of key council workers across ten local authority areas are now set to take targeted industrial action when schools resume after the summer break. This includes janitors, cleaners, caterers, classroom assistants and administrative staff.

The ten councils set to be impacted by industrial action are as follows: Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Fife, Glasgow City, Inverclyde and Orkney.

The current 5.5% pay offer for 2023 was rejected by 84% in a consultative ballot held by Unite in May. The current rate of broader inflation (RPI) stands at 10.7%.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The message for both the Scottish Government and COSLA is loud and clear.

“Thousands of our members have voted to take strike action in education and early years services because they won’t accept a real terms pay cut.

“Our members deserve far more than the five per cent being served up by the politicians. We will support our members all the way in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government.”

The latest development in the pay dispute follows talks with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ (COSLA) last week where no improved pay offer was put on the table.

Unite has called for First Minister Humza Yousaf to directly intervene in the pay dispute following what it describes as a ‘collapse’ in negotiations with COSLA. 

Graham McNab, Unite industrial officer, added:  “Unite’s members will no longer be taken for granted or undervalued across Scottish councils. Our education and early years members are key workers who help to ensure that children have the safest and best possible learning environment.

“A five per cent pay offer when the broader cost of living remains in double digits is a harsh real terms pay cut no matter how much spin COSLA and the Scottish Government try to put on it.

“The politicians have the power to prevent any industrial action hitting schools and early years services. The real question for them is – do they want to play politics with each other at the expense of council workers, or pay our members what they deserve?”  

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%.

“It is an offer which recognises both the vital role of the people who deliver our essential services across Councils every day and the value that we, as employers, place on them.  

“Crucially, it also raises the Scottish Local Government Living Wage by 99p to £11.84 per hour and sets out a commitment to work with our Trade Unions to develop a road map to £15 per hour in a way that protects our workforce and services we deliver.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in