Letter to COSLA re Pay

SJC Pay 2021


As you know UNISON commenced a formal statutory industrial action ballot on 1st September, of members employed in school cleaning, school catering, school janitorial, waste and recycling services, over the 2021 Pay offer.

The ballot closed yesterday and we wanted to update you on our position.
Each individual employer has been informed of their results directly by our UNISON Ballots team. Employers should remember that this was a disaggregated ballot, targeted at only a small percentage of UNISON members.

The national turnout in this ballot was 42.4%. Whilst individual employer turnouts vary considerably, with us reaching the required 50% threshold in a number of areas, it should be noted that this is one of, if not the, highest turnout in a national ballot in local government ever achieved since the 2016 Trade Union Act took effect.

In every area the percentage of those voting who did so in favour of taking strike action was overwhelming, including a number who had 100% of those balloted voting in favour of taking strike action. There is a very clear message to the employer from our members that the offer currently on the table is not acceptable.

It is now more than 9 months since the Joint Trade Unions submitted our pay claim, on behalf of the 200k local government workers covered by the Scottish Joint Council negotiating machinery, and 18 months into a global pandemic which has seen them working flat out on the frontline with no reward. Our members are now at breaking point and are worth more than what is on offer.
We urge you to come back to the negotiating table with proposals that will take consideration of, and reward, their significant contribution.
Yours sincerely,

Johanna Baxter
UNISON Scotland, Head of Local Government

UNISON formally balloted members across 31 Local Authorities

As you will be aware UNISON formally balloted members across 31 Local Authorities employed in school cleaning, school catering, school janitorial, waste and recycling services regarding the LG Pay Offer. That ballot closed yesterday Wednesday 22nd September 2021.

We would advise that on the close of the ballot we did not reach the statutory turnout threshold in this local authority, set by the Anti Trade Union Bill needed to take action by a very thin margin, however 97.44% of members in the Stirling ballot return voted for Industrial Strike Action which demonstrates a strength of feeling.

I can further advise that on this basis the UNISON Scotland Local Government Committee are considering its next steps and will keep you updated on any further action.

Pay claim – Industrial action

UNISON, Scotland’s largest local government union, has started to issue formal industrial action ballot papers in a dispute over pay.

COSLA, the umbrella body representing council employers, had previously offered staff earning less than £25,000 a flat rate rise of £800. Last week COSLA came back with a revised offer of £850 – working out at approximately 97p per week for the lowest paid staff.

The union says council staff who have kept services and schools running throughout the pandemic deserve a proper pay rise. They say the latest pay offer falls far short of their pay claim and does little to address low pay which has become endemic following a decade of austerity.

The trade union says that councils have suffered a decade of cuts and jobs losses, and that staff have received year-on-year pay cuts. It has meant delivering services has become increasingly stressful for the workforce.

Pressure is mounting on both COSLA leaders and the Scottish Government to find an urgent resolution to this issue. COSLA leaders met again on Friday (August 27).

UNISON intends to take targeted strike action, which means select groups of workers will be balloted. These include members working in school cleaning, school catering, school janitorial as well as those working in waste and recycling services.

Lorraine Thomson, UNISON Stirling Branch Secretary said: “The last 18 months have taken an enormous toll on council staff who have been working flat out for no reward. Their courage and sacrifices need to be rewarded, yet the employers are failing to recognise their efforts. “These workers, mostly women, are amongst the lowest paid in the country and have seen their pay drop substantially in recent years. The pay offer falls far short of their colleagues in the NHS and local government workers are left feeling exhausted and undervalued. Scotland’s council workers deserve fair pay.”

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said: “We’ve all relied on council staff to keep our communities clean and safe, protect the most vulnerable and to work in our schools throughout successive lockdowns to allow others to work. “Without these workers going above and beyond to keep services running over the past year their colleagues in the NHS would have been left without childcare, our mortuaries would have been overwhelmed, our children would have been left without an education and our elderly would have been left without care. Yet to date they have received no reward or recognition of their efforts at all. It’s simply not good enough – our council staff are worth more.”