Waste service workers to take further strike action in pay dispute

Unions have called for an improved pay offer to be made.

Waste service workers to take further strike action in pay dispute STV News

Two four-day strikes are to be held by refuse workers, with warnings of further action unless a “significantly improved” pay offer is made.

Trade union GMB Scotland has confirmed that strikes will take place from August 26 until August 29, and then from September 7 until September 10.

It will impact on waste and recycling services in 16 councils across the country.

They are; Aberdeen, Angus, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, Falkirk, Glasgow, Inverclyde, Highland, Midlothian, Orkney, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian, Perth and Kinross, and North Lanarkshire.

GMB members in the City of Edinburgh Council waste and recycling service will also join strike action running from August 18 until August 30.

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As well as the announcement by GMB Scotland, UNISON has also confirmed strike dates in eight local authorities.

The union served notice of action on Aberdeenshire, Clackmannanshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, Stirling and South Lanarkshire councils.

Strike dates set out by UNISON are the same as those announced by GMB as part of a co-ordinated plan of industrial action.

UNISON has stated that it will provide strike dates for school and early years workers in “due course”.

GMB Scotland senior organiser Keir Greenaway called for an improved pay offer to be made.

“Unless COSLA and the Scottish Government make a significantly improved pay offer, more strikes will start across councils in just a few weeks,” said Greenaway.

“Both parties are squabbling while more of our members struggle with debt, fuel poverty, and hunger, exposing a huge gulf between politics and frontline workers.

“This is only increasing anger and fear among our members – anger over the lack of value shown to them and fear about what winter will bring in this cost-of-living crisis.

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“Make no mistake, these strikes are a direct response from our extraordinary key workers to months of political failure.

“They are not prepared to accept working poverty as an inevitability even if Scotland’s political leaders are.”

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said that its members had been left with “no other option” but to take strike action.

“This is the first wave of strike action which will only escalate if a significantly improved pay offer is not forthcoming,” she said.

“Strike dates for schools and early years workers will be confirmed in the coming days.

The responsibility for this action lies squarely with the Scottish Government and COSLA, neither of whom seem to have grasped the gravity of this situation. 

“Inflation is projected to be as high as 13%, the cost of living crises is hitting people’s pockets now and yet local government workers still only have a 2% offer on the table, the lowest offer in the public sector.  They have had months to sort this out but all we seem to get is dither and delay.”

Baxter continued: “Our understanding is that the money provided by the Scottish Government is half of what COSLA asked for and goes nowhere near matching the pay offer provided to council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

“If this is true then the Scottish Government and COSLA need to get back round the table and come up with a better plan or services will stop. 

“The last thing UNISON members want is a strike but they have simply been left with no other option.”   

Deputy First Minister John Swinney earlier said that the Government needs local authorities to make an enhance offer to employees.

“I have listened and I announced an extra £140m of new money to go into local government on a recurring basis to support a higher pay award for members of staff,” he told BBC Good Morning Scotland.

“That is money I will have to take from another part of the Scottish government. When local government came to me for additional money they recognised it was not an issue for the Scottish government to solve in its entirety. It is a partnership.

“I would expect local government to match that.”

Swinney added: “We need local authorities to make an enhanced offer to employees.”

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