Summer bin strike warning as council workers balloted over pay dispute

More than 43,000 of council workers are due to vote in an official ballot over pay.

Summer bin strike warning as thousands of Unison council workers balloted over pay dispute STV News

Scotland could see rubbish piling up in the streets this summer if council workers vote in favour of potential strike action, a union has warned.

More than 43,000 council workers in waste and recycling, schools and social care are due to vote in an official ballot over pay.

Refuse workers will be the first to be balloted and could take action as early as July if the action goes ahead.

Unison said staff are “frustrated” over being offered 2% as part of their annual pay rise at the start of April.

The ballot will be in three phases, with waste and recycling staff being balloted first in the coming days, with others to get their ballot papers later in the summer.

Unison Scotland local government committee chair Colette Hunter said: “Council staff should have received a cost of living pay rise last month. But the offer is miles away from the level staff deserve.

“There seems no other option but to begin strike ballots. Workers aren’t willing to put up with long delays.

“Council waste and recycling staff will receive official strike ballots through the post very soon. Unless COSLA comes up with a fair pay offer it looks like strikes will be going ahead.”

​Unison Scotland lead for local government David O’Connor added: “The employers promised an improved offer would come this week. Council staff have made it very clear that they’re not willing to be strung along.

“If COSLA makes a better proposal soon, it’ll be considered. Strike action is always the last resort, but as it stands, there’s no choice but to start an official ballot.”

COSLA has said that there is “very little room for manoeuvre” on pay due to a flat cash settlement from the Scottish Government.

A COSLA Spokesperson said: “Learning from the last few years, we are working hard to maintain a dialogue with our SJC Trade Unions partners, whilst we explore all avenues.

“We are doing all that we can to get the best possible offer on the table. It is important to reiterate that this is against the context of a flat cash settlement from Scottish Government, which leaves very little room to manoeuvre without service reductions and job losses which we want to avoid at all costs.

“We understand our unions frustrations over the difficulties in getting a realistic pay offer to them given the constraints noted above. We remain committed to doing the best by our workforce who deliver essential local services in every community across Scotland.”

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