They are now ‘demanding’ strike suspension as ‘best and final’ offer made
Most primary and secondary schools in Scotland face closures from Tuesday, September 26, to Thursday, September 28
COSLA, which represents councils in pay and conditions negotiations, have been claiming along with SNP that the Government had no money to finance a deal that meet the demands of the trade unions representing the works, UNISON, GMB and UNITE.
But today said a “significantly enhanced offer” deal was conditional on the unions taking it to their members, for full consideration, and that strikes be suspended with immediate effect whilst they do so.
They were lying when they said it would be impossible to finance a new deal, not being economical with the truth or obfuscating, but straightforwardly lying when the local authorities said they had found another £80 million to pay school staff more.
The hard-pressed public, faced with increases across the board for council tax and so many other services, will now be asking for the location of the SNP money tree.
Their intransigence has caused weeks of anxiety and widespread worry amongst some of the lowest paid council staff during the cost of living crisis as they made their questionable attempt to prevent mass industrial action in schools across the country.
It has been reported that up to £30 million of this money is said to come from the Scottish Government – which previously said councils would have to find the cash within their existing budgets.
The Deputy First Minister Shona Robison, right, standing in this morning for Humza Yousaf at First Minister’s Questions – he is on a trip to New York in pursuit of a lost cause to overturn Rishi Sunak’s five-year extension to the UK’s climate change commitment – put on the poor mouth once again when she told MSPs there was no cash left in the Holyrood coffers to meet any new deal for anyone.
However, it is understood that local authorities were able to find around another £50 million after being given more flexibility over spending.
These local authorities include West Dunbartonshire Council who claim they have neither the money or the authority to overturn Scottish Government budget cuts made under the previous SNP administration – including abandonment of grass cutting throughout the area – in the current financial year.
STV News, who broke the story of the COSLA “demands” to the non-teaching staff to accept their all or nothing deal understand that the roughly £84 million extra cash has been used to make the deal backdating a 7% rise to April. Unions were delivered the new offer from COSLA on Thursday afternoon.
COSLA’s resources spokesperson councillor Katie Hagmann said: “This really is our best and final offer, we have nowhere to go after this. We have gone beyond our limits in a bid to satisfy our workforce and avert next week’s strikes.
“Despite the extreme difficulties this presents us with, Scotland’s council leaders have listened and acted on the ask of our trade union colleagues to get us to this position today.
“We can now make a significantly improved in-year offer meaning those workers on the Scottish Local Government living wage will see an in-year uplift of around £2000 or almost ten per cent.
“I cannot stress enough the efforts that both Local and Scottish Government have gone to in relation to securing the funding to meet this ask.
“Politicians and officers have worked tirelessly in partnership to review, re-prioritise, restructure and re-profile money, ensuring the impact on our communities is minimised.
“However, have no doubt, tough decisions have been taken and there will be delays to programmes and projects within communities to meet these pay demands.
“No new money has been identified for this offer – it is the ultimate example of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ in finance terms.”
She added: “Strikes are too damaging to our children and young people, their families and our communities across Scotland for us not to have taken this action.”
Janitors, cleaners, caterers, classroom assistants and administrative staff are due to walk out in a series of strikes beginning on September 26 in a dispute over pay.
On Wednesday, Unite, Unison and GMB unions granted COSLA a grace period to improve the £1,929 increase offered last month before deciding on whether walkouts will take place next week.
The deal covers all council workers apart from teachers who are covered under a separate deal.
A total of 26 of Scotland’s 32 councils, including West Dunbartonshire, which includes Helensburgh’s Hermitage Academy, are set to see disruption, but in Argyll and Bute it will be business as usual since there was no support for a strike there.