GMB union members vote to accept council pay offer

·2-min read
Rubbish piled up on the streets in Edinburgh (Lesley Martin/PA) (PA Wire)
Rubbish piled up on the streets in Edinburgh (Lesley Martin/PA) (PA Wire)

Members of the GMB trade union in Scotland’s councils have accepted a pay offer after strike action by waste workers.

Waste workers in Edinburgh walked out at the height of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, leaving rubbish to pile up on the street.

Staff in other council areas also downed tools, with the threat of non-teaching schools staff striking looming before Unite, Unison and GMB agreed to put a new deal to members.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon personally intervened in the talks, calling a meeting that stretched on for more than eight hours, before council leaders made a new offer to staff the following day.

Some 81% of respondents voted in favour of the deal, GMB said.

The deal will provide a flat £1,900 increase for staff earning less than £39,000 per year, backdated to April 1.

The union’s Scotland organiser Keir Greenaway said: “Our members have accepted the offer negotiated by unions and the First Minister by a clear majority.

“We are now calling on councils to ensure this consolidated increase is put into the pay and conditions of members as soon as possible, because the cost-of-living crisis hasn’t gone away.”

But the union leader said the end of the dispute should be a “point of reflection rather than relief” for politicians.

“Tens of thousands of low-paid workers were kept waiting months for movement on a decent pay offer in the grip of soaring inflation and eye-watering energy bills. That’s unacceptable and can’t be repeated next year.

“GMB is clear that after years of cuts to pay and services, this must be the start of the story in the fight for proper value of our key workers, because this period of intense economic pressure is going to last years and not months.

“Most importantly, we want to pay tribute to our members. Strike action is not easy, but through sacrifice and solidarity they have secured a significantly improved pay rise to help confront the winter months of this cost-of-living crisis.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “I am very pleased that GMB Scotland members have accepted the pay offer for their members who work in local government in key roles across our communities.

“The Scottish Government is doing everything possible within the resources available to support the people of Scotland in the face of the cost-of-living crisis. I hope that members of the other local government unions will also vote to accept this pay deal, which ensures that those who need the most support get it.”