Council workers back vote on strike action if pay offer not ‘credible’

Council workers in Scotland have backed a formal vote on strike action if a forthcoming pay offer is too low, a union has announced.

GMB Scotland balloted its members on whether to hold a formal vote on strikes if a forthcoming council pay offer is not “credible”, and said 97% of respondents voted in favour.

It has warned the pay offer could amount to an increase of less than 3%, while MSPs are due to receive 6%.

Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland’s senior organiser in public services, said: “Our members will rightly be asking why our politicians believe they deserve a rise of more than 6% while council workers delivering vital frontline services do not.

“The hypocrisy would be staggering if it was not so entirely predictable.

“We hoped council leaders might have learned lessons from last year and act with greater urgency.

“That has not happened and the same mistakes are being made, with the same lack of action leading to the same rising support for industrial action.”

He said GMB members are prepared to strike if the offer is unacceptable, saying: “Without joint talks right now, without funding for a fair, negotiated pay award, industrial action in our local authorities will be inevitable.”

GMB Scotland, one of the largest unions in local government, has members across all areas of council workforces, including many in frontline roles such as care and cleansing services.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Local government pay negotiations are a matter for unions and local authorities as the employers.

“Ministers recognise the crucial role councils and their employees play in communities across Scotland. That’s why, despite UK Government cuts, this year the Scottish Government has made available over £14 billion to local councils – a real-terms increase of 2.5% compared with the previous year.

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

A spokesperson for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said: “Council leaders will meet this Friday, April 26, to consider a report on the Scottish Joint Council pay claims for 2024/25.”