By Bill Heaney
It is a widely held view that most things handled by the SNP government and their local councillors are yet another bourach.
However, one would have thought that with First Minister Humza Yousaf swanning off to New York to bore the citizens there about independence and Scotland’s attitude to climate change that the SNP would have upped their game.
It was not to be, however. The schools strike planned for next week is still up in the air. Will it go ahead? Maybes aye, maybes naw.
UNISON, the biggest local government trade union, says they’ll be sticking to their guns and taking part in the walk-out. The other two unions, GMB and Unite, have declared that they will not be striking.
This means that the schools will still be shut anyway which will come as a relief to the parents of those pupils who will be on holiday over the weekend and who anticipated that since the strike days and the holiday days put together would add up to seven days off, they would book a holiday.
Now their plans have been thrown into disarray. Yes, it’s a bourach alright. Btw, for those of you not up to scratch with your Gaelic bourach means shambles, a right dog’s breakfast.
It appears that, despite the developments of the last 24 hours, the strikes will still go ahead.
The Scottish government freed up £80 million so local authority body Cosla could make the improved offer, which includes a rise of about £2,000 a year for the lowest paid.
It has been rejected by Unison, whose members will walk out on 26, 27 and 28 September in 24 council areas. The union described the latest offer as “too little, too late”.
However, the Unite and GMB unions said on Friday morning that they were suspending their planned strikes while their members were consulted on the new offer.
The curmudgeonly West Dunbartonshire Council won’t tell The Democrat which schools will be closed and which won’t.
BBC Scotland is making the point that Unite and GMB members in many other areas could face the prospect of having to cross Unison picket lines, but West Dunbartonshire Council doesn’t think you should be told which ones.
Half a million £s a year these so-called communicators cost us for not communicating. They really should grow up. The Chief Executive should take his earphones out and start listening to people.
Unite’s lead negotiator Graham McNab said today that the latest pay offer “should have been put on the table months ago if it were not for the dithering and blundering by Cosla and Scottish government ministers” and was recommending that its members accept it.
UNITE and GMB reps in West Dunbartonshire, Margaret Wood and David Smith.
The GMB said the new offer was “significantly better” but also questioned why it had taken Cosla so long to put it on the table, adding: “lessons should be learned from these needlessly protracted negotiations to ensure workers, parents and pupils do not endure similar uncertainty in future.”
The dispute is over a pay offer for non-teaching school staff including janitors and canteen workers.
The vast majority of schools in the 24 areas are expected to close if the Unison strike action goes ahead, although the picture is varied across the country and some secondary schools have said they will open to senior pupils.
Unison Scotland’s head of local government, Johanna Baxter, said: “We cannot agree to a pay offer that will result in further cuts to our members’ jobs and the services they provide.
“These are not well-paid staff, they are on less than the Scottish average wage and it is simply not acceptable.”
A deadline was originally set for 17:00 on Wednesday for Cosla to make an improved pay offer – but it asked for an extension to seek funds from Deputy First Minister Shona Robison, who told the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, where she was standing in for the First Minister, that Scotland was effectively skint.