School staff urged to reject council pay offer as ballot closes

Further strikes loom as non-teaching workers consulted over pay offer branded a 'real-terms pay cut' by Unison chiefs.

Scottish school staff urged to reject council pay offer as ballot closes iStock

The largest union representing Scottish council workers has urged members to reject the latest offer chiefs branded “a real terms pay cut.”

Unison members have been asked to take part in a digital consultative ballot over the latest pay offer from local government body COSLA which they say “does not go far enough” for all workers.

Non-teaching staff took part in three days of industrial action in September which saw hundreds of schools across 24 local authorities close.

Unison said 21,000 members walked out across 1,868 schools.

Hundreds of schools closed as support staff walked out on strike in SeptemberSTV News

The action involved non-teaching staff, including support assistants, catering staff, cleaners and janitors.

The consultation closes at 12pm on Monday October 16.

COSLA’s pay offer – made after the Scottish Government freed up £80m – would see the wages of the lowest-paid workers rise by around £2,000 a year.

Two other unions – Unite and GMB – last month suspended planned strikes while they consulted members on the offer, but Unison said it would continue with its plans, labelling COSLA’s deal “too little too late” .

It is understood there was correspondence between the two parties over the weekend, but no new offer was made.

Unison also wrote to COSLA and the Scottish Government warning that any future walk-outs are likely to be even bigger as it reported a surge in members.

What the pay offer means

Essential school staff are some of the lowest-paid local authority workers and have been embroiled in a pay dispute with COSLA over a pay increase.

A new offer represents a minimum wage increase of £2,006 for those on the Scottish Government’s living wage and a minimum increase of £1,929 for workers who are earning above the living wage.

The living wage of £10.85 will rise to £11.89 under the new offer, equivalent to a 9.6% increase – but Unison has said the revised pay offer remains a “real-terms pay cut” and “below the rate of inflation”.

What is being said?

A Unison Scotland spokesman said: “We are balloting all of our members in local government on the latest proposal from Cosla – but  Cosla haven’t even published the pay scales that go along with the offer. What they are saying to council staff is ‘sign up now and we’ll tell you how much you’ll get later’.

“It just adds insult to the injury of the ongoing wait for a pay deal that should have been in wage packets in April. We’ll find out today what UNISON members think of that sort of treatment.”

A COSLA spokesperson said:  “Scotland’s Council Leaders value their workforce. 

“We have listened to our Trade Unions, met all their asks and worked with Scottish Government to put an incredibly strong half a billion pound pay package on the table.

“COSLA has made every effort to avert these strikes – strikes are in nobody’s interests and benefit no-one, least of all children and young people and their families.

“We can do no more at than offer a 10 per cent or £2,006 pay increase for our lowest paid workers, which the unions specifically asked for, and we await the outcome of the ballot results next week.”

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