UNISON, the largest trade union representing 84,000 workers in local government in Scotland, condemned ‘outrageous’ behaviour by COSLA at a meeting of the Scottish Joint Council (SJC) today (Tuesday).
At the meeting, councillors voted against a trade union motion which called for the SJC – the negotiating body for the main local government workforce – to approach the Scottish government for additional funds to improve their 2023 pay offer.
The trade union say they are attempting to move negotiations on and avoid industrial action after members in all three trade unions voted to reject COSLA’s current pay offer.
The union has warned that local government strikes are now more likely given that negotiations seem to have stalled.
Johanna Baxter, UNISON’s head of local government said: “Our members will be outraged that councillors would rather pick a fight with their own workforce and see us back in industrial dispute than stand up to the very government that is starving them of funds.
COSLA should be standing up for council services and the workers who deliver them but I fear they have just demonstrated the limitation of their effectiveness. We know that councils face difficult decisions due to the financial predicament the Scottish government have left them in – we just didn’t think that standing up for their workforce would be one of them.
But the fact that councillors voted against asking for more government money to improve their pay offer exposes their inability to put party politics aside and do the right thing for the workers they are relying on to deliver their services.”
Mark Ferguson, Chair of UNISON’s Local Government Committee said: “It’s quite something when even the councillors admit in the meeting that ‘COSLA have failed to protect local government for years’.
Our members deserve a decent pay rise and employers who will stand up for them – it’s clear that COSLA are not prepared to do either and as such we will have no option but to proceed with our plans to conduct a statutory ballot for industrial action.”