Waste services workers belonging to UNISON start four days of strike action today (Thursday), in Stirling, and Perth & Kinross. The action is part of a wider dispute over the pay offer made to local government workers by COSLA earlier in the year and will disrupt bin collections and recycling across both authorities, says the union today (Thursday).
UNISON is also balloting 30,000 school staff in every local authority in Scotland over pay, with that ballot closing on Friday 25 August. If those staff in education vote to strike, there could be a mass school closures across Scotland in September, UNISON warns.
Earlier this year, UNISON consulted its entire local government membership (84,000) on COSLA’s pay offer. This comprised of a 5% rise from April this year, plus an additional increase that varied depending on an individual’s salary. The extra amount was payable from January 2024. The union’s members voted overwhelmingly to reject (87%) this. Nine in ten (90%) of those who opposed the offer also opted for taking some form of strike action to try to secure an improved wage increase.
UNISON Scotland head of local government, Johanna Baxter said: “Strike action by UNISON members today is a direct result of COSLA’s inaction and could have been avoided easily. COSLA needs to focus on an improved pay offer to ensure local government workers get a pay boost that better reflects their immense contribution to local communities.”
“COSLA’s offer falls far short of what’s needed. It’s less than that made to the lowest paid local government staff south of the border and would amount to a real-terms pay cut during a cost-of-living crisis.
“Despite the union’s efforts to move negotiations along, they’re at an impasse. UNISON members have overwhelmingly rejected COSLA’s pay offer. COSLA says it doesn’t have any more money to improve the offer, but it’s also refused to approach the Scottish government for additional funding.”
UNISON Stirling branch secretary, Lorraine Thomson said: “Local government workers don’t take the decision to take strike action easily. But COSLA has left them with no option. They see their counterparts in England and the NHS being offered more than they’ve been and they refuse to be treated as second-class public service workers.
“Council pay has declined in real terms over the last decade and the cost-of-living crisis means extra pressure on their pockets. Many are struggling to make ends meet. It’s no wonder staff are fed up with being undervalued. The action being taken today, on behalf of all their colleagues across local government, clearly demonstrates this.”