Local News

Constructive Talks As Industrial Action Looms

Orkney Islands Council (OIC) has warned islanders of possible disruption to services as some council workers may be involved in strike action. The planned action is due to take place from Friday through to Monday from 26th to 29th August. If the strike goes ahead it will most likely affect the county’s waste collection and recycling. On Friday this could see disruptions to area 5 for recycling and areas 13 and 15 for waste and on Monday, Westray could be affected alongside Mainland areas 1 and 6 for refuse and area 9 for recycling

Union leaders were in talks with John Swinney, Deputy First Minister of Scotland, last night.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON head of local government said:

“We have held detailed constructive talks with Deputy First Minister this evening at St Andrews House. We welcome that he listened to UNISON concerns and was keen to explore how he could support getting council pay talks pay back on track.

“We were clear that we need to rethink not only the construction of the pay offer, so that those on the lowest incomes are fairly treated, we also need to explore ways in which we can increase the overall cash available to come to a fair offer.

“There was a general agreement that only two negotiating meetings in eight months on pay was not acceptable, and better processes need to be put in place to facilitate finding speedier solutions on pay.

“Although we do not have an offer today UNISON will continue to work with the Deputy First Minister and COSLA to find a way forward towards a solution that benefits all our members.”

The organisation which represents Scotland’s local authorities, COSLA, issued a statement on the failure to reach agreement on the pay offer.

COSLA Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Katie Hagmann, said:

“As Council Leaders have said consistently – we absolutely value and are grateful to our workforce.

“We fully understand that our trade union colleagues want the best possible deal for their members – especially given the concerns many within our workforce have around the cost of living crisis we are currently facing.

“That is why we as Employers have done everything possible to put the best offer we can to them in the context of the extremely challenging financial circumstances Scotland’s Councils have been and are continuing to face.

“The reality of this new offer is that the lowest paid 12% of our workforce will get more than a 5% increase meaning that those on the Scottish Local Government Living Wage will see an overall 7.36% increase. This amounts to one of, if not the best offer in decades for Scottish Local Government workers during some of the most trying times for Councils to continue to deliver the everyday essential services that our communities rely on.

“It is an offer made in good faith, which as far as we can in the current circumstances, tries to ensure that our lowest paid workers are protected from the cost of living crisis, raising the minimum hourly rate for the lowest paid within the workforce to £10.50 per hour. It seeks, as far as possible, to ensure sustainable long term secure employment. On that basis we look forward to continuing constructive discussions with our Trade Union partners.”

In Orkney householders have been advised to put their bins out as normal on Friday – and if not collected, to take them back in and hold on to the waste and recycling if at all possible. OIC will post updates on its Facebook page.