Council staff to vote on strikes after pay offer rejected

Council staff across Scotland have rejected a new pay offer, with a vote now set to open on potential strike action, a union has said.

Unison Scotland balloted members on the offer from local authority body Cosla, but it said 91% of respondents rejected the 2.2% uplift, which would have increased by a further 2% after six months.

The union said over the coming weeks, its members – including cleansing workers and school staff – will now be consulted on walkouts.

Colette Hunter, chairwoman of the local government committee at the union, said: “This result must be a wake-up call for Cosla that council workers need to be rewarded fairly for the essential services they provide.

“Staff have experienced years of cuts to their pay levels and a reversal has to begin.

“The last thing anyone wants to do is go on strike, but local government workers deserve a fair increase to stop their pay lagging further behind inflation, and the wage increases being given in other sectors of the economy.

“Workers have seen the value of their pay fall over the past 10 years, often while being asked to do even more.

“They provide vital services to their communities by caring for the most vulnerable, educating children, waste and recycling and keeping people safe.

“Council workers deserve better.”

A spokeswoman for Cosla said: “We are disappointed that our pay offer has been rejected by Unison. Our workforce is highly valued by council leaders.

“In the context of a flat-cash budget settlement for local government, we made a strong offer.

“The offer of 2.2% from April 1 with a further 2% from October 1 is in line with current forecasts for inflation.

“We are concerned that the threatened strike action will harm communities and put service users at risk.

“We remain committed to doing the best we can by our workforce, who deliver essential local services in every community across Scotland.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Local government pay negotiations are a matter for local authorities as employers and unions – the Scottish Government has no formal role.

“The Scottish Government urges all parties involved to work together constructively and reach an agreement which is fair for the workforce and affordable for employers.”