Local government workers on path to industrial action

UNISON members working in local government have indicated their willingness to take some form of industrial action, up to and including strike action, in a dispute with COSLA over pay.

89.8% of UNISON members voted that they would be prepared to take industrial action in a consultative ballot announced today. The ballot comes after COSLA’s only pay offer was rejected outright by all three local government trade unions in March.

Whilst a formal, statutory, ballot would need to take place before any action could happen the union state that the result of this consultative ballot demonstrates the strength of feeling on the issue and is calling on council leaders to improve their offer to avert industrial unrest.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland’s head of local government, said: “We simply cannot go on like this – local government workers deserve better. Whilst COSLA and the Scottish Government will blame each other for this paltry pay offer it is our members that suffer – they have already endured a decade of austerity, the stress of working on the frontline of the pandemic and now face a cost of living crises like no other.

These results make clear they are no longer prepared to put up with being treated like the poor relations of the public sector.

Low pay is endemic across the sector with over half of local government workers earning below £25k per year. The only offer put forward by COSLA to date was below that recommended by the Scottish Public Sector Pay Policy and did not even bring those on the lowest wages up to £10 per hour.

COSLA Leaders meet again on the 29th April and have the opportunity to put this right. Make no mistake – as we head to the polls our members will remember who is prepared to recognise, respect and reward the valuable work that they do.”

Mark Ferguson, UNISON Scotland’s chair of local government said: “This country would not have got through the pandemic without the efforts of local government workers. The only offer put forward by COSLA was derisory and insulting. They were given ample opportunity to improve it before the pay review date but chose not to do so. Our members will not put up with this any longer.”

Full details are on the UNISON Scotland website

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