Union warns nearly 10,000 council workers could take strike action

The GMB union is calling for an increased pay offer for workers.

Union warns nearly 10,000 council workers could take strike action iStock

Nearly 10,000 council workers could take strike action this summer in a dispute over pay.

Local government bosses have been urged to increase a current 2% pay offer, described as “paltry” by the GMB union.

A statutory notice will be sent to local government body COSLA on Monday by GMB.

They will inform COSLA of an industrial action ballot of all members in schools and early years, as well as waste and cleansing services.

The ballot will run from Monday, June 6 until Tuesday, July 26.

GMB claims that the 2% pay offer would equate to a “massive real terms pay cut” for frontline workers.

And they have raised concerns over the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on workers.

GMB Scotland senior organiser Keir Greenaway warned that the crisis could become a “catastrophe” for many working families.

“Tens of thousands of the lowest paid staff in local government will go from the frontline of public service delivery to below the breadline unless their pay confronts soaring inflation and eye-watering energy bills,” he said.

“But instead of recognising the scale of the challenge and rising to meet it, political leaders are sleeping at the wheel and blaming each other for their inability to address it – it’s a far cry from their doorstep applause every Thursday night only two years ago.

“Let’s be clear. A pay rise of just 2% for the workers earning under £25,000 a year is worth no more than a tenner a week.

“It will turn a crisis into a catastrophe for many working families and there is no trade union worth its salt that would leave that unchallenged.”

He added: “Unless COSLA comes back to the negotiating table with a vastly improved offer that reflects the fact our members are working in the biggest of cost-of-living crisis in forty years then industrial action looks inevitable.”

Scottish Labour’s local government spokesperson Mark Griffin urged the Scottish Government to fund a pay offer reflecting the efforts of workers during the pandemic.

“The SNP’s chronic underfunding of local government has put our vital services at risk and has left frontline workers to pick up the pieces,” said Griffin.

 “The SNP cuts to council budget have taken Tory austerity and multiplied it.

 “The result is strained essential services and a failure to value the workforce, who stepped up across Scotland throughout the pandemic and beyond and are now bearing the brunt of a cost of living crisis. 

“These workers have gone above and beyond – the Scottish Government should fund a pay offer which reflects that.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said that pay settlements are a matter for COSLA.

“The Scottish Government is not involved in local government pay negotiations,” they said.

“Pay settlements for council workers, excluding teachers, are a matter for COSLA and are determined through negotiations at the Scottish Joint Committee (SJC).

“The Scottish Government is not a member of the SJC and council pay is therefore not a matter it can directly intervene in.

“It is for trade union colleagues to reach a negotiated settlement with COSLA.”

The spokesperson insisted that council stay play a “crucial role” in communities as the country rebuilds from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

They continued: “We are treating councils fairly and providing a real terms increase of 6.3% to local authority budgets this year.

“This comes against a cut to the Scottish Government’s overall budget of 5.2% in real terms, due primarily to UK Government funding reductions.

“Council staff play a crucial role in our communities as we rebuild the economy following the pandemic.

“We would encourage the parties to maintain dialogue and stay at the table to reach agreement.”

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