‘Council staff are worth more’ says UNISON as members are balloted on strike 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.
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. This means that locally, schools could close and rubbish could remain uncollected.
Inez Kirk, Aberdeenshire UNISON Branch Secretary said: “It gives us no pleasure to ballot our members for strike action but 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. 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.
“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.”