Strikes loom in schools and cleansing after ‘derisory’ pay offer

Ballot notice served to councils as GMB union members reject Cosla's £850 a year increase for staff earning up to £25,000.

Strikes loom in schools and cleansing after ‘derisory’ pay offer GMB

Nearly 10,000 school support, refuse and cleansing workers will be balloted for industrial action from next week.

It comes after GMB Scotland reps served statutory notice on councils across the country against a “derisory” pay offer for 2021. 

A consultative ballot of GMB Scotland members across Scottish local government delivered a 95% rejection of Cosla’s £850 a year increase for staff earning up to £25,000 a year. 

There will now be a ballot for industrial action – running from Thursday 16 September to Thursday 7 October – with the prospect of strike action affecting school cleansing, janitorial services, refuse collections, and street sweeping from late October onwards. 

GMB Scotland Senior Organiser Drew Duffy said: “Cosla’s offer amounts to little more than £15 a week more for our frontline workers in local government, it is derisory and unacceptable.

“The dither and delay on delivering proper value means they are still mired on pre-pandemic pay rates – there has been no “thank you” for these workers.

“Council and political leaders have said many times during this pandemic they value the work of our members, well it’s time they put their money where their mouth is.

“The threat of disruptive strikes in schools and community services is now likely, and unless Cosla chiefs table an improved offer the blame will lie with them.”

Unison said the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), the umbrella body representing council employers, had previously offered staff earning less than £25,000 a flat rate rise of £800.

Last month Cosla came back with a revised offer of £850.

Unison said the current offer does little to address low pay and does not recognise workers’ “extraordinary efforts” during the pandemic.

John O’Connor, a bin lorry driver in Glasgow, told STV News he thinks the offer from Cosla is “appalling”.

He said: “It’s shameful, it’s embarrassing, not just if you work in Glasgow but for the 31 other councils in Scotland.

“We’re still to go out there and do our statutory service for the city. We just want to be recognised for the job we do and we do it well.”

A Cosla spokeswoman said: “We appreciate everything that local government workers have been doing, and continue to do, to support people and communities during the pandemic and as we begin to recover.

“We continue with ongoing constructive negotiations.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Public sector workers – including local government staff – are integral to tackling the pandemic in Scotland.

“Council pay is not a matter the Scottish Government can intervene in but we hope trade union colleagues and Cosla are able to reach a negotiated settlement.”

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