Strikes to continue as UNISON recommends council workers reject COSLA pay offer

UNISON, Scotland’s largest local government union, has today (Monday 29 August) confirmed that strikes will continue as they move to consult members on COSLA’s latest pay offer.  

UNISON will recommend its members vote to reject the offer in a consultative ballot in the coming days.  The decision comes in response to COSLA’s latest pay offer – received this morning – following a week of crises talks in which union representatives have worked night and day to try to find a solution to the current dispute.  UNISON has confirmed that strike dates in waste and recycling, schools, and early years, which have already been notified to the local authorities in which we have legal mandates, will continue as planned during the period of consultation.

The key elements of COSLA’s offer include:

  • A minimum pay uplift of £1925, based on a 37-hour working week, matches the offer made to Local Government south of the border.  However, in Scotland only part of this payment will be consolidated into council workers’ ongoing pay, the rest will be delivered via one-off payments.
  • Those earning less than £20,500 – around 1 in 5 of the council workforce – will receive a pro-rata gross pay increase in 2022 equal to £2,000.
  • The removal of SSSC fees for all roles and grades where applicable, including social workers and social care workers among others.
  • One additional day’s leave for all.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said: “UNISON negotiators have worked day and night to find a solution to this crisis. We welcome the contribution the Scottish Government has made to date and COSLA’s commitment to scrapping SSSC fees, their agreement to a one-off cost-of-living increase, and additional days’ leave.  However, as we have repeatedly told them both the size of the current cost envelope is simply not big enough to deliver a decent consolidated wage rise for the majority of our members.  

“UNISON’s local government committee met this morning and confirmed that strike action will continue while we consult our members on this latest offer.  Council workers are struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis after ten years of austerity.  This is another pay cut they simply cannot afford, which is why we are recommending they reject the offer and continue with the action already planned to try to secure a bigger consolidated sum.”

Mark Ferguson, chair of the local government committee said: “This is the first time since devolution that we have embarked on industrial action like this. Half of the council workers earn less than £25k per year and 85% earn less than £39k per year – they are all worried about paying their bills.  Inflation is continuing to rise, and our members are being asked to take a real-terms pay cut which will plunge even more of them into debt.  Strike action is the last resort and we are always open to getting around the table to reach a solution.”

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