LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Council workers back strike action over pay dispute

Members of Unison voted by 88% to reject the offer, while 74% backed taking some form of industrial action

By Democrat reporter

Council workers have voted in favour of strike action over what one union described as an “inadequate pay offer” from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla).

According to STV News, members of Unison, the largest trade union in local government representing 80,000 workers, voted by 88% to reject the offer, while 74% backed taking some form of industrial action up to and including strikes.

The pay deal offers all council workers earning less than £25,000 an £800 rise, while those on £25,000 to £40,000 would get a 2% increase, and workers paid above that would be awarded 1%.

A letter from the union to Cosla described the vote as a “substantial rejection from our members”, and said the “current offer is simply not good enough”.

Unison also said it will continue to lobby the Scottish Government for additional funds for local authorities – but added employers need to prioritise their workforce when deciding how to spend the money they do have.

Mark Ferguson, chairman of Unison Scotland’s Local Government Committee said, it is unacceptable for their members “to be used as a political football”.

Johanna Baxter, Unison Scotland head of local government, added: “This is a massive rejection of an inadequate pay offer from Cosla.

“While the Scottish Government and Cosla have been quick to praise these workers for their efforts during the pandemic, neither seem willing to take any action at all to recognise and reward them.

“It is about time they did and our members are clear that if an improved offer is not forthcoming, they are prepared to take industrial action in order to achieve one.

“In a country where a quarter of children are living in poverty, it should concern everyone that 55% of the Scottish local government workforce earns less than £25,000 per annum – that’s over 100,000 workers earning significantly below the average wage of £32,000 per annum.

“The best way to lift people out of poverty and regenerate our economy would be to put money into the pockets of the lowest paid.”

A Cosla spokeswoman said: “We have made an offer to our trade union colleagues. This offer remains on the table while we continue with ongoing constructive negotiations.”

The West Dunbartonshire branch of UNISON have shown how they feel about council cutbacks.

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