Local council workers across Scotland have rejected a new pay deal, with a large majority voting in favour of taking action.
Members of Unison rejected the offer on Wednesday, with 87% voting to reject the deal – 90% of whom also voted to take action up to and including strikes.
Workers who rejected the deal in the consultative ballot include refuse workers, cleaners and school staff.
“Local government workers have overwhelmingly voted to reject Cosla’s pay offer and made it clear that they are willing to take strike action to get a better offer,” said Johanna Baxter, Union’s Scotland head of local government.
“It is disappointing that yet again UNISON members are having to consider withdrawing their labour in order to secure a decent pay rise – it’s the last thing they want to do but they continue to face a cost of living crisis and they have understandably had enough of being treated like the poor relations of the public sector.”
The pay offer would have seen a 5% rise from April 1, 2023, according to Unison.
It would also have brought further increases in January next year, depending on what salary bands workers are in.
However, the Union is urging Cosla to make an improved offer ahead of the organisation’s leaders meeting on Friday.
The union warned its local government committee were now preparing next steps for a formal industrial action ballot.
Ms Baxter added: “Cosla and the Scottish government need to get around the table and fund local government properly so these workers get a pay rise that recognises and rewards the vital work they do.
“The alternative is that we remain in this cycle of dispute year after year with the result that local government workers become increasingly exasperated and disillusioned at the way they are being treated.”
Chair of Unison’s Scotland local government committee, Mark Ferguson said: “Local government workers in Scotland have suffered over a decade of pay cuts and, with the rest of the country, are living with the cost of living crisis.
“Local government staff are the backbone of our communities – our refuse workers, cleaners, school staff, carers and more.
“They deserve to paid fairly and not have to be worrying about how they will pay their household bills.”
In a letter to Simon Cameron of Cosla, Ms Baxter and Mr Ferguson said the offer fell below the rate of inflation and, for those on the lowest pay, fell short of the offer made to workers in other parts of the United Kingdom.
The rejection of the pay deal by Unison comes just days after members of GMB rejected the pay deal.