Questions and answers about the ballot

Which groups are being balloted for strike action?

The membership groups that we have formally notified employers we will be balloting are all mem­bers employed working in schools, who provide services to the running and operation of the school, and all members working in early years and in waste and recycling services.

Why are only certain groups being balloted for action?

It is important to stress that this campaign is for all local government workers. The decision to only ballot certain groups of workers for strike action is tactical – to ensure we maximise the impact of our action on vital service areas likely to force the employers hand.

What is the deadline for returning my ballot paper?

We must receive your completed ballot paper by 10am on the 26th July 2022 so you need to get it in a post box a couple of days before this to make sure you meet the deadline.

What should I do if I misplace my ballot paper?

Call the ballot helpline on 0800 0 857 857. This Helpline will be open from 8am on 15th June 2022 to 12 noon on the 20th July 2022.

Why can’t I vote online?

Legislation governing industrial action stipulates that a formal industrial action ballot must be con­ducted by post.

Why should I vote for strike action?

• The failure to provide a meaningful increase to the Scottish Local Government Living Wage means that those on the lowest pay would still not reach a £10 per hour rate of pay never mind the £12 per hour called for in our claim.

• This offer is weighted towards those on the highest pay and will further exacerbate the issue of endemic low pay which plagues this sector.

• The offer fails to address many of the other issues outlined in our claim such as the need to allevi­ate the burden of paying professional fees for those on the lowest wages and achieving a no-det­riment reduction in the working week to address issues of work-life balance.

• UNISON would not ask you to take strike action unless it was absolutely necessary. We have ex­hausted all other options in terms of trying to get movement from your employers.

Will I get any financial support if I vote to take strike action?

Yes, all members taking strike action will be financially supported by UNISON. Further details will follow.

I am employed on multiple contracts with my local authority – am I being balloted to take strike action in all my roles?

You are only being balloted on your role as an employee working in a schools, for the purpose of pro­viding services to the running and operation of the school, or your work in early years or in waste and recycling services.

I’m not being balloted for strike action – what can I do to show my support for the campaign?

There are a number of things you can do to show support for the campaign and it is important that you do so colleagues included in the ballot know that you stand with them.

You can: https://join.unison.org.uk

You have been offered another pay cut and not a pay rise

Hi, I am Lorraine Thomson. I am a UNISON member, and I am the Branch Secretary for the UNISON Stirling Branch and the Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Education Issues Group.

Many services are still recovering and feeling the effects from the pandemic, Holyrood continues to underfund councils, and the failure to provide local government workers with an inflation busting pay rise in the midst of a cost of living crisis continues to put a strain on a largely overworked workforce.

In real terms you have been offered another pay cut and not a pay rise.

The services provided by council workers are what makes a decent society possible. They are not a drain on our society, but an achievement of our society.

UNISON members deserve a fair pay rise. Their fuel costs have went up. Their heating costs have went up. Their food costs have went up! The cost of everything has gone up. But their pay has not!

That is why we are asking members who work in Waste Services and Early Years and Schools to vote yes for strike action.

Your pay ballot should be hitting your doorstep now and it is in a blue envelope. You should return it as soon as possible.

The ballot is open until 29 July.

We need to show decision makers that we are serious about the cost of living crisis and what comes into our pay packets.

Vote yes for strike action.

Strike action is always a last resort, but local government workers are again being overlooked for a decent pay rise. Enough is enough!!

UNISON to ballot 25,000 school staff and waste and recycling workers

UNISON to ballot 25,000 school staff and waste and recycling workers for strike over pay tomorrow, after Kate Forbes refuses offer of last-ditch talks

UNISON will start an industrial action ballot tomorrow (Friday 10 June) for 25,000 local government workers in schools, early years, waste and recycling across Scotland. The ballot will take 7 weeks and will close on 26 July. 

UNISON are recommending the workforce vote yes to strike action as the only way left to move the employer’s position.  They intend to shut schools across Scotland when children return after the school summer break.

In a last-ditch attempt to avert industrial action processes UNISON wrote to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Minister of Finance Kate Forbes, on 1 June to ask that they meet with the trade unions to discuss the funding for local authorities to improve the pay offer.

Kate Forbes has written to UNISON today and said ‘it would not be appropriate to interfere in these negotiations, given their devolved nature’ and that ‘it is therefore for you to negotiate with COSLA and ‘respectfully declined the tripartite meeting being proposed by COSLA’.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government said: “Local government workers have been offered a miserly 2%.  With inflation at a 40 year high this goes nowhere near compensating them for the cost-of-living crisis or the loss in the value of their pay following real terms pay cuts over a decade of austerity. This comes on the back of the Scottish government announcing cuts to public services that Margaret Thatcher would be proud of, in their recent spending review.” “The fact they will not sit down with COSLA and the trade unions to try and find a solution is a kick in the teeth to all local government workers. They have forgotten already who was educating our children, cleaning our communities, caring for our vulnerable and burying our dead throughout the pandemic. Local government workers keep society running. We have no option left and will ballot 25,000 school, nursery and waste and recycling workers tomorrow.”

Vote Yes! Vote Now!

Having consistently worked above and beyond to keep our key services going over the past 2 years of the pandemic, and with the cost of living spiraling, COSLA’s offer of a 2% increase is nothing short of an insult.

Whilst politicians have raced to praise your efforts their warm words have not been matched by action.

Earlier this year we ran an online consultation to see what you and other local government members thought of the employers 2022 pay offer.  It was no surprise that the overwhelming majority of you voted to reject the offer and indicated your willingness to take action to achieve a better deal. 

Nothing has changed since then and we now need you to vote yes to take strike action to remind your employers exactly how you feel.

This offer is derisory.  It is less than the Scottish Public Sector Pay policy, falls far short of our pay claim and is significantly below current levels of inflation.  It will exacerbate the gap between those on the lowest and those on the highest rates of pay.  And it is in sharp contrast to the 5.2% increase that Councillors themselves have just received from 1st April 2022.

You are worth so much more!

Your vote is vital.  The employers aren’t going to rethink unless we stand firm together. Vote yes to strike action to remind your employers that you deserve better.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland Head of Local Government

Mark Ferguson, UNISON Scotland Chair of Local Government

Response from Kate Forbes to our request for a meeting

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes, has responded to our request for a meeting with herself, the First Minister and COSLA to discuss LG finance and implications for pay – her response is attached for your information.  In short she has stated that she is not prepared to meet with us. You will be as appalled by this as we are.  We have issued the attached press release in response.

UNISON Scotland Media release

UNISON to ballot 25,000 school staff and waste and recycling workers for strike over pay tomorrow, after Kate Forbes refuses offer of last-ditch talks

UNISON will start an industrial action ballot tomorrow (Friday 10 June) for 25,000 local government workers in schools, early years, waste and recycling across Scotland. The ballot will take 7 weeks and will close on 26 July. 

UNISON are recommending the workforce vote yes to strike action as the only way left to move the employer’s position.  They intend to shut schools across Scotland when children return after the school summer break.

In a last-ditch attempt to avert industrial action processes UNISON wrote to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Minister of Finance Kate Forbes, on 1 June to ask that they meet with the trade unions to discuss the funding for local authorities to improve the pay offer.

Kate Forbes has written to UNISON today and said ‘it would not be appropriate to interfere in these negotiations, given their devolved nature’ and that ‘it is therefore for you to negotiate with COSLA and ‘respectfully declined the tripartite meeting being proposed by COSLA’.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government said: “Local government workers have been offered a miserly 2%.  With inflation at a 40 year high this goes nowhere near compensating them for the cost-of-living crisis or the loss in the value of their pay following real terms pay cuts over a decade of austerity. This comes on the back of the Scottish government announcing cuts to public services that Margaret Thatcher would be proud of, in their recent spending review.” “The fact they will not sit down with COSLA and the trade unions to try and find a solution is a kick in the teeth to all local government workers. They have forgotten already who was educating our children, cleaning our communities, caring for our vulnerable and burying our dead throughout the pandemic. Local government workers keep society running. We have no option left and will ballot 25,000 school, nursery and waste and recycling workers tomorrow.”

Inflation and inequality briefing

Please view the attached a UNISON  briefing on inflation and inequality.

UNISON’s low paid members know only too well how much prices are soaring, given they are among those unfairly hit hardest by the cost of living crisis. This briefing covers inflation, the differences between ways to measure it, and why it is vital we speak up on behalf of those members who face far higher inflation than the headline rates; in rocketing heating, food and other bills.

This all matters in pay negotiations at the best of times, even more so in this crisis. All our members deserve a decent pay increase, not real terms pay cuts as we face the biggest price rises in 40 years.

KEY POINTS:

Inflation impacts more on those on the lowest incomes, with food and very high heating costs a much higher proportion of their budgets

RPI is a better indicator of the costs facing workers than CPI (but it is due to be scrapped in 2030 in favour of CPIH)

Soaring energy bills are a major factor in the cost of living crisis, causing rising fuel poverty – heat or eat

People on benefits, disabled people & low paid workers, many of whom are women, are struggling to make ends meet, with food bank use rising & more need than ever for universal free school meals

Pay rises and higher benefits are key