Schools across four council areas close as support staff go on strike

Non-teaching staff at dozens of schools and nurseries are set to walk out as part of a rolling programme of strike action.

Unison school strikes: Schools and nurseries across four council areas close as support staff go on strike STV News

Schools across four council areas have closed as support staff go on strike over pay.

Unison members last month rejected a pay deal from Cosla that was accepted by other unions and will walk out in Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.

The council body said it had secured additional funding from Scottish Government of £94m in order to make the “extremely strong” revised pay offer.

A new offer represents a minimum wage increase of £2,006 for those on the Scottish Government’s living wage and a minimum increase of £1,929 for workers who are earning above the living wage.

The union announced nearly 90% of those balloted voted to reject the most recent pay deal, which Unite and the GMB both accepted.

The strike on Wednesday is part of a “rolling programme of action”, Unison said, with fresh action also taking place on Wednesday November 8 across South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh and Fife. Further dates are yet to be announced.

It comes after around 21,000 Unison members walked out for three days at nearly 2,000 schools in Scotland in September.

Unison Scotland’s head of local government Johanna Baxter said: “Despite our repeated calls for Cosla and the Scottish Government to get back round the table for meaningful discussions we have had no invitations to even exploratory talks.

Unison staged a protest with nursery workers in North LanarkshireUnison North Lanarkshire

“The union is committed to reaching a resolution to this dispute as soon as possible.  And there is still time for Cosla and the Scottish Government to get back round the negotiating table to explore every avenue to reaching a negotiated settlement and avoid further disruption for parents and students.”

“The strength of feeling amongst UNISON’s 91,000 local government members, who voted overwhelmingly to reject Cosla’s latest pay offer, is clear.  They are determined to continue to fight to get an improved pay offer.”

Unison Scotland chair of the local government committee Mark Ferguson said: “No one takes the decision to strike lightly.

“I’m a parent myself, so I understand the disruption strikes cause. But if wages don’t rise, school staff will leave for other jobs beyond education that pay significantly more. That would be a disaster and would help no one.

“The current offer amounts to a real-terms pay cut and adds further stress to a dedicated workforce already suffering from the cost-of-living crisis.

“Cosla and the Scottish Government need to give school staff a decent wage rise, fund any increase properly and commit to implementing a minimum underpinning rate of pay of £15 per hour for all local government workers.”

A Cosla spokesperson said:  “Whilst there was good progress made on Friday, there will be a further meeting of council Leaders later this  week.  No further comment today.” 

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