School strikes set to go ahead amid pay deadlock

Workers involved will include school dinner ladies.

By Lucy Ashton

School strikes in some council areas still look likely to go ahead next week after local authority leaders met to discuss a controversial pay offer.

The deal has been rejected by the biggest council union Unison but two other unions – UNITE and the GMB – have accepted it.

Council leaders agreed to delay implementing the deal but there is still no sign of a breakthrough.

Non-teaching staff who are members of Unison are due to strike in four local authority areas on Wednesday.

It could lead to widespread school closures in Glasgow, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.

The offer means a rise of around £2,000 for the lowest paid non-teaching staff.

For others it would amount to a 5.5% increase.

But Unison believes a better deal is possible and also fears that councils will need to make more cuts to afford the offer, unless the Scottish government provides them with more money.

The industrial dispute involves non-teaching staff including catering, cleaning, pupil support, administration and janitorial workers in schools and early years centres.

In September, more than 21,000 Unison members went on strike for three days at 1,868 schools.

Thousands of pupils were told to stay at home.

The dispute involves school catering, cleaning, janitorial, admin and classroom assistants.

On Friday council leaders from across Scotland discussed the pay offer for several hours at the national council body, Cosla.

The offer has been accepted by members of the GMB and Unite, and Cosla considered whether to implement it without Unison’s agreement.

One argument in favour of doing this is that staff would receive their pay rise – plus several months of back pay – before Christmas.

But implementation would also risk inflaming the dispute with Unison.

As it stands Unison members will strike in four council areas on Wednesday.

The following Wednesday, 8 November, will see strikes in four more areas – South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh and Fife.

Unison is threatening to escalate the action and ballot other council staff, including refuse workers, on striking.

Following the latest strike announcement earlier this week, Cosla said the offer on the table was “as far as local government can go”.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said there would be no extra money for local authorities to offer increased pay to staff.

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