Deputy First Minister agrees to meet unions as UNISON local govt committee reject revised offer from COSLA

UNISON, together with other local government trade unions, and representatives from COSLA will meet with the Deputy First Minister later today (Wednesday) to call for significantly increased funding to allow pay talks to continue.

UNISON, Scotland’s largest local government union, yesterday announced the latest strike dates which will disrupt schools, early years centres, nurseries and waste and recycling centres across Scotland in the coming weeks. This is the largest strike among council workers since the Trade Union Act was introduced in 2016 and UNISON’s mandate covers more than 13,000 workers across Scotland.

UNISON’s local government committee met this morning (Tuesday) to discuss the revised pay offer made yesterday by COSLA – the umbrella body representing council leaders – of a 5% undifferentiated rate for council workers. The committee agreed the offer is not good enough to put to members, noted that both parties had agreed to approach the Deputy First Minister to press for additional funding and strike action will continue as planned at present.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland’s head of local government, said: “A percentage increase would mean that those on the highest wages would get the highest pay increase while those on the lowest would receive the least – we believe that is completely unfair given the cost of living pressures affecting everyone right now. A flat-rate increase was a key element of our pay claim but the cost envelope that Leaders agreed last week was never going to be enough to provide members with a decent increase. Warm words don’t pay our members bills and we need the Deputy First Minister and COSLA to come up with a significantly improved financial package at the meeting today if widespread disruption is going to be averted.”

Mark Ferguson, chair of UNISON Scotland’s local government committee, said: “This pay offer is nowhere near the offer made to council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Our members quite rightly want to know why the Scottish Government believes Scotland’s public service workers are worth so much less than their counterparts south of the border.

“With inflation currently running at above 10% – and only set to increase – this pay offer would be nothing more than a significant pay cut, and one that our members simply cannot afford as they struggle to meet rising fuel, food and household costs.”

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