Edinburgh waste workers, members of Unite, began strike action over pay on Thursday (August 18) after Unite formally rejected the latest pay offer.
Unite said that the 3.5 per cent offer announced by COSLA last week was ‘nowhere near good enough’ which is also a position supported by several council leaders including those in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The formal rejection comes as strike action began on Thursday (August 18) in Edinburgh. It will end in the capital city on August 30, the day following the end of the Edinburgh International and Fringe festivals.
It is estimated that around 250 Unite members based in Edinburgh are participating in the ‘first wave’ of strike action. Unite will be the largest trade union in terms of members involved in this initial phase of council strike action to hit all waste services.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Unite’s local government representatives have rejected the paltry offer of 3.5% from COSLA. The offer is nowhere near good enough. Council leaders across Scotland including Edinburgh and Glasgow are publicly on the record acknowledging this reality so why should our members even consider it. We make no apologies for standing up for our members because they deserve better than what they are getting from the politicians. Unite will always defend the jobs, pay and conditions of its members.”
Last week, Unite announced a ‘second wave’ of strike action to hit all waste services in 14 councils. It is estimated that around 1,500 Unite members across these councils will join fellow council workers in Edinburgh on strike. The days of strike action in these 14 councils will begin on August 24 and end on August 31.
Unite regional officer Wendy Dunsmore said, “Strike action began in Edinburgh this Thursday, and then will roll-out across Scotland. We have the pathetic spectacle of COSLA and the Scottish Government doing a Hokey Cokey dance as they blame each other for the unacceptable pay offer. The fact is both of them are equally to blame. Our members are fed-up with this politicking because all they want is an offer put on the table which reflects their hard work, and helps them deal with the cost of living crisis hurting families across Scotland.”
It is reported that more than half of Scotland’s 250,000 council workers are earning less than £25,000 a year for a 37-hour week. Unite previously warned all new council leaders if they do not act to improve pay, they will see strikes this summer.
Unite has warned both the Scottish Government and COSLA that the 3.5 per cent offer is unacceptable amid the deepening cost of living crisis with inflation soaring to 11.8 per cent.
By Andrew Brady
Pic by Craig Maclean