Local government workers will strike unless pay offer improved, say unions

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Trade unions representing local government workers have sent out a joint letter demanding an improved pay offer to avert strike action.

Unison, Unite and the GMB have written to every Scottish council leader urging them to up their offer of a 3% increase for staff or risk “widespread industrial action across the local government workforce”.

Members, who rejected the recent the pay offer, will demonstrate outside Friday’s meeting of Cosla leaders in Edinburgh and say there will be strikes in the new year if the offer is not improved.

The unions say despite assurances from Cosla about parity and fairness across all local government workers, the Scottish Government found an extra £38 million for teachers – meaning some teachers could get up to 10% pay rises.

The letter to the 32 council leaders sets out the unions’ key concerns and states: “There is now a very real possibility of widespread industrial action across the local government workforce unless you take measures to improve the current offer.”

Unison’s head of local government bargaining Johanna Baxter said: “Cosla leaders have the power to prevent mass industrial action across the local government workforce by listening to, and addressing, the genuine concerns of our members.

“We would urge them to do so and to improve the current pay offer.”

Drew Duffy, GMB senior organiser, said: “Cosla and the Scottish Government are running out of time to do more for the lowest paid in local government.

“Our members are very clear that they are prepared to move to industrial action in their fight for a better offer and after a decade of cuts to their pay and conditions, no one should be surprised.

“How the employer-side responds over the coming days will be a reflection of how they value workers on the front-line of our vital local services – and it will also shape the unions’ next steps.”

Elaine Dougall, Unite senior national officer, said: “Local government workers deserve a decent pay rise in recognition of the valuable contribution that they make in delivering crucial services across Scotland.”

A Cosla spokesman said: “This will be an item on our leaders’ agenda tomorrow.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We value and recognise the contribution of all council staff However, pay for local government employees, other than teachers, is negotiated between the unions and COSLA and the Scottish Government is not part of that process.

“Despite continued UK Government real terms cuts to Scotland’s resource budget, we have treated local government very fairly.

“In 2018-19, councils will receive funding through the local government finance settlement of £10.7 billion.

“This will provide a real terms boost in both revenue and capital funding.  While local authorities are responsible for setting their own budgets, the total funding they have available will increase by almost £342 million in 2018-19.”

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