School Staff Set for Strike Action

Schools look set to experience a series of strikes as the latest pay offer by COSLA ( the organisation which represents Scotland’s local authorities) was rejected by trade unions.

Kirkwall Grammar School from the playing fields

The workers involved include janitors, cleaners, caterers, classroom assistants and administrative staff.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: 

“It has taken COSLA five months to increase their offer by a measly 38 pence a week for the lowest paid council workers. Unite’s local government representatives rightly rejected this offer. The fight for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government goes on, and if needs be by strike action. Unite will back its members all the way.”

The revised offer represents an increase on the previous offer of only 0.17%. For those on the lowest pay the revised offer represents an increase of only £0.01 per hour, effective from 1st Jan 2024.  Those working full-time and earning £25K or above are being offered no increase on the previous offer, which has already been rejected.

UNISON Scotland head of local government, Johanna Baxter said:

“It is deeply disappointing that it has taken COSLA five months since our members rejected the initial offer to present such insignificant changes.  We have made very clear that COSLA must put forward a significantly improved offer to avert mass school strikes.  Members of our Local Government Committee this morning described this offer as insulting.

“It is staggering that COSLA have still not approached, and continue to refuse to approach, the Scottish Government for additional funding to make a meaningful improvement to the pay offer.  Given the state of local authority budgets we believe this to be a dereliction of the duty to stand up for local government and fight for the funding needed to both properly reward the local government workforce and keep our public services running.”

Commenting on the rejection of the pay offer, COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Katie Hagmann said:

“I am doubly disappointed today, firstly with the rejection itself, but perhaps more importantly, with the fact that they did not take the revised offer to their membership for consideration.

“We have continued to conduct these negotiations in good faith and kept communication channels open at all times.

“We absolutely value all our Local Government Workforce and throughout these negotiations Council Leaders have re-iterated the value we place on the Workforce and the work that they do.

“That is why we enhanced an already strong offer yesterday, with Council Leaders going to the absolute limits of what Local Government can afford.  The simple fact of the matter is that we have no more money available for pay without real cuts to jobs and services.

“It must be remembered that we are talking about a pay package worth over £440 million, specifically targeted at the lower end of our workforce.  A pay package which not only compares well to other sectors but recognises the cost-of-living pressures on our workforce and which would mean the lowest paid would see a 21% increase in their pay over a two-year period.

“Whichever way you cut it, this is a very strong offer in the financial climate we find ourselves.  We have a duty to ensure that services are sustainable within the funding for pay we have available.

“I am disappointed with today’s rejection . However, we will continue to engage as positively as we can with the Trade Unions as strike action is in nobody’s interests.”

The outside of Doumby single level primary school with a bench outside it

UNISON Scotland chair of UNISON Scotland local government committee, Mark Ferguson said:

“The strike mandate we have is the strongest show of strength by our members in decades – their resolve to fight for the decent pay rise they, and all their colleagues across local government, so richly deserve is clear.”

And Graham McNab, Unite industrial officer, added:

“Once again, COSLA has completely botched its pay offer and has made a bad situation worse, while the Scottish Government watches from the sidelines. The Scottish public really must ask their politicians why this situation is being allowed to occur every year. It’s a really poor state of affairs.”

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