Unite the union has today (May 9) called on all new council leaders at Scottish local authorities to take immediate action to improve pay, or see strikes this summer.
The trade union confirmed that it is in the process of targeting selected groups of workers employed in all thirty-two Scottish authorities with a view to balloting its members in schools, home care and cleansing as early as June.
Unite further accused COSLA leaders, who recently voted against making a further pay offer, of having ‘zero backbone’ in standing up for local government workers and demanding more financial support from the Scottish Government. Along with the local government trade unions, Unite has now written to COSLA expressing its anger at this disregard for the workforce amid the deepening cost of living crisis.
In March, Unite along with other local government trade unions rejected outright a two per cent pay offer from COSLA as falling far short of both the trade union claim and the current rate of inflation, which reflects the true cost of living including spiralling food and energy costs, it stands at a 30-year high of nine per cent.
It is estimated that more than half of Scotland’s 250,000 local authority workers are earning less than £25,000 a year for a 37-hour week.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Unite’s members across local government in Scotland have had enough of year on year pay freezes and cuts, which is why we are getting battle-ready to deliver the pay rise they deserve.
“It’s a sorry indictment of both COSLA and the Scottish Government that our members are preparing to vote on strike action but from the Shetland Islands to the Borders, Unite’s members have their union’s full backing in their fight for decent pay.”
Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer added, “The first thing in the in-tray for the new council leaders is Unite’s warning that unless there is a change of attitude then we will ballot thousands of our members on industrial action.
“We know COSLA Leaders voted against making any further pay offer and they are treating our members with utter contempt. COSLA has proven themselves to possess zero backbone when it comes to standing up against the Scottish Government and demanding that services and workers get the support they deserve.”
By a massive 91 per cent, thousands of Unite local government workers in April confirmed that in response to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ (COSLA) failure to put forward a fair and decent offer that they would be prepared to take industrial action.
By Andrew Brady