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Council Strikes Still On The Cards

Trade unions representing Scotland’s council workers are advising their members to reject the latest pay deal offered by the employers COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities).

UNISON has confirmed that strike dates in waste and recycling, schools and early years, that have already been notified to the local authorities will continue as planned during the period of consultation.

The key elements of COSLA’s offer includes:
• A minimum pay uplift of £1925, based on a 37 hour working week, which matches the offer made to Local Government south of the border. However, in Scotland only part of this payment will be consolidated into council workers ongoing pay, the rest will be delivered via one-off payments.
• Those earning less than £20,500 – around 1 in 5 of the council workforce – will receive a pro-rata gross pay increase in 2022 equal to £2,000.
• The removal of social care registration fees for all roles and grades where applicable, including social workers and social care workers among others.
• One additional day’s leave for all.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said:

 “UNISON negotiators have worked day and night to find a solution to this crises. We welcome the contribution the Scottish Government have made to date and COSLA’s commitment to scrapping SSSC fees, their agreement to a one-off cost-of-living increase, and additional day’s leave. However as we have repeatedly told them both the size of the current cost envelope is simply not big enough to deliver a decent consolidated wage rise for the majority of our members.”

Strike action will continue whilst members are being consulted. Johanna Baxter explained:

“ Council workers are struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis after ten years of austerity. This is another pay cut they simply cannot afford, which is why we are recommending they reject the offer and continue with the action already planned to try to secure a bigger consolidated sum.”

COSLA representatives are disappointed by the response from the unions to the deal. The offer has been negotiated on behalf of Scotland’s 32 councils.

COSLA state that ” is an overall package worth half a billion pounds, giving 5% to all staff plus an additional cost of living payment to our lowest paid employees. Based on a 37-hour week no member of staff will get less than an additional £1925 and for those earning under £20,500 at least a £2,000 pay increase – for this year and also next year.”

Councillor Katie Hagmann COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson said:

“Council Leaders have said consistently throughout these negotiations that we absolutely value and are grateful to all of our local government workforce.

“It is perhaps only when waste starts piling up and there is the prospect of further disruption to life with school closures that others see the hidden value local government services deliver each and every day of the year in our towns, villages and cities.

“It is for this reason that we as employers have done everything possible to put the best offer we can to our workforce.  But we are now at the absolute extremes of affordability and this is already an offer which is stretching our already stretched finances like never before.

“This year’s offer is significantly better and different to previous offers and would have helped to support our Council workforces across the country at this difficult time.

“That support is crucial at any time but particularly now, during the cost of living crisis the country is facing.  This is why we are so disappointed with the response to it from our Trade Union colleagues.

“Given our commitment as Employers to get to this point, we are disappointed that Trade Unions will not suspend planned strike action whilst they put this offer to members to allow workers to get back to doing what they do best, delivering high quality, essential services right across Scotland.

“My final point to the Trade Union colleagues is that we have done everything we possibly can to get to this stage and that this offer – which is still on the table – is as good as it gets.”

GMB Scotland have issued a statement in response to the Scottish Government’s request for a meeting with local government unions this afternoon, 30th August, over the 2022/23 COSLA pay offer.

GMB Scotland Senior Organiser for Public Services Keir Greenaway said:

“Our members need a flat rate offer because that means more consolidated money goes into the pockets of frontline workers delivering the services our communities depend on.

“Unions have been clear about this from the submission of our initial pay claim and right through negotiations over the weekend – the prospect of a Heads of Service getting four times more money than a bin collector, school cleaner or home carer is simply not credible.

“We think the public will support the argument that a fairer share of money goes to workers who were visible in their communities throughout the pandemic, those collecting waste, supporting kids, and tending to the vulnerable, while their bosses had the relative safety of working from home.

“We say this to the Scottish Government and COSLA: A flat rate offer can be easily tabled. It’s not about affordability, it’s a straightforward choice about whether political leaders want to put more consolidated money into the wages of frontline workers or not.”

 The planned national strike action over pay is scheduled for three days next week – 6, 7 and 8 September.

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