First Minister must act to avert council strikes, says UNISON

UNISON, together with other unions, has called on the Scottish government to provide additional funding to improve the pay offer for council workers.

The unions say the cash available to local government employers from the Scottish government needs to be increased if they are to deliver a decent uplift for all.

Unions are also angry that, as they understand, COSLA leaders voted down a motion at their recent meeting calling on the organisation to approach the Scottish government for additional funding to improve the pay offer.

The letter, sent to First Minister Humza Yousaf, states that local government employers continue to argue that they do not have enough money to allow them to increase pay for those on the lowest grades without disadvantaging those on the middle-incomes.

UNISON says the financial crises that local government faces is a direct result of underfunding over many years and is calling for a long-term solution to this to avoid a continuous cycle of industrial unrest.

Without intervention from the First Minister, unions fear they are sleep walking into a second year of industrial action.

UNISON Scotland’s head of local government Johanna Baxter said: “That COSLA leaders have, inexplicably, chosen not to approach the Scottish government for additional funding to improve the pay offer for council workers will astonish our members. This is despite unions asking them time and again to do so.

“At the same time we are being told that the continued financial constraints facing local authorities mean that any additional money directed towards pay will have a direct impact on staff numbers and the ability to maintain essential services.

“Whilst COSLA sit on their hands they, and the Scottish government, are sleep walking towards a second year of industrial action. Earlier this year former Deputy First Minister, John Swinney said he was open to discussion with COSLA and unions and recognised the Scottish government has a role to play. No-one wants to see rubbish piling up on the streets again and schools threatening to close.”

UNISON Scotland’s local government chair, Mark Ferguson said: “It is disappointing that the COSLA seem more willing to face a dispute with their own workforce than ask the Scottish government for the funding they say they need. Our members continue to face the pressure of an unprecedented cost of living crises and are simply seeking a decent pay rise. They don’t want to have to strike but will if that is they only way they can get COSLA and the Scottish government to take notice of them.”


Top pictures: West Dunbartonshire branch of UNISON sent a protest group to Edinburgh and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood on Thursday to protest against council cuts.

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