Warning of further council staff strike action as no new pay offer made

GMB and Unite have called for a 'significantly improved' deal to be made.

Warning of further council staff strike action as no new pay offer made STV News
Staff at schools, nurseries and waste and recycling centres could all walk out.

Councils in Scotland are being warned of further strike action after no new pay offer was made to local government workers.

It comes following talks this week that were held after a 2% pay offer was rejected earlier this year.

Local government body, COSLA, has been criticised by union bosses after failing to make a fresh offer.

GMB Scotland indicated that the cost-of-living crisis could turn into a “catastrophe” for tens of thousands of staff unless a significantly improved offer is made.

GMB

It means that staff at schools, nurseries and waste and recycling centres could all walk out.

Further discussions between COSLA, the Scottish Government and the union are expected to take place next week.

GMB Scotland senior organiser Keir Greenaway described it as “shameful” that there are public sector workers in poverty.

“The ongoing inaction on pay will only increase the anger and fear among our members – anger about the total lack of value being shown to them and fear about what the winter will bring,” he said.

Union members could take industrial action.STV News
Union members could take industrial action.

“In the six months since the 2% was rejected, staff have suffered badly in a cost-of-living crisis that’s now spiralling out of control.

“More of our members are affected by debt, fuel poverty, and hunger, and this will only get worse with further rises to inflation and energy bills.”

Greenaway continued: “This is also exposing a huge gulf between our political leaders and frontline workers.

“It is shameful that swathes of our public services are delivered by people in working poverty and it’s disturbing that our political leaders won’t confront it.

“This crisis will turn into a catastrophe for tens of thousands of key workers, and more councils will face more strikes, unless a significantly improved pay offer is tabled.”

Responding to Friday’s meeting with council leaders, Unite’s industrial officer Wendy Dunsmore said there had been more “procrastination” from both COSLA and the Scottish Government.

“What more clarifications and information do they need other than thousands of local government workers have voted with their feet to walk-out because the current 2% offer is totally unacceptable?

“The public should be aware that the trade unions have been trying since the turn of the year to amicably resolve the pay award for 2022 through negotiations, and the 2% pay offer was rejected in March.

“Our members have been strung along and they have had enough of the politicking. If strike action does occur in a matter of days then it will be entirely the fault of COSLA and the Scottish Government.”

A COSLA spokesperson said:  “We held constructive discussions with Scottish Government earlier this week. 

“Leaders met virtually today and at this meeting agreed that they needed further information.

“Given the importance of a pay award for our workforce, council leaders wanted to seek further clarification from both the Scottish Government and the UK Government and will reconvene in the next seven days to further consider this matter.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said that finding a solution must be a “collaborative endeavour”.

“I can confirm that following constructive discussions with COSLA leaders, and notwithstanding the financial impact on our fully committed budget, the Scottish Government is contributing a further £140m of recurring funding to support COSLA to make a revised pay offer to the local government workforce,” he said.

“Without the ability to borrow or change tax policy, this will have a significant and ongoing impact upon our fixed budget that ministers are taking steps to address.

“Finding a solution must be a collaborative endeavour and local authorities now need to do the same.

“This additional funding demonstrates our commitment to local government and their staff and will allow local authorities to make a significantly enhanced pay offer.”