Renfrewshire Council workers could strike over latest pay offer dispute in summer of discontent

Another summer of discontent looks likely across Renfrewshire as trade union chiefs confirm they are moving “full steam ahead” towards industrial action.

Public sector unions Unison, Unite and the GMB issued the strike warning on Friday as they rejected the proposed pay offer for local government workers.

The offer comprises 2.2 per cent effective from April 1 to September 30, and then two per cent for a 12-month period effective from October 1, 2024 to September 30, 2025.

The GMB’s local government committee rejected the offer outright, as did Unite, which confirmed that it will this week reveal its planned ballot of key workers in the sector – likely to include waste workers and support staff in Renfrewshire schools.

Unison has put the latest COSLA offer to its membership but has also advised they reject it.

Graham McNab, Unite industrial officer, said: “The pay offer doesn’t come close to meeting the aspirations of our members in local government. Unite also opposes the pay anniversary date being moved to October as nothing but a cynical attempt to kick the can down the road.

“Politicians pretend the cost-of-living crisis has gone away but that just isn’t the reality for the vast majority of workers in local government who have endured years of low pay, chronic underfunding and record rates of inflation.

“Unite is moving full steam ahead towards industrial action this summer unless COSLA makes a significantly improved pay offer.”

Collectively the unions are calling for a flat-rate pay increase of £3,000 or an uplift of 10 per cent, whichever is greater.

They are also seeking a two-hour reduction in the working week with no detriment and an additional day of annual leave for personal or wellbeing purposes.

COSLA – the body which sets public sector pay across Scotland – should also, they claim, commit to looking at pay in the longer term and an ambition to see the minimum hourly rate increase to £15.

Chair of Unison Scotland’s local government committee, Colette Hunter, said: “The offer falls short of the level local government workers deserve and the union is recommending staff vote to reject it when they are consulted next week.

“Workers have seen the value of their pay fall over the past 10 years, while often 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 need a pay rise that reflects this.”

Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland senior organiser in public services, said: “The offer to Scotland’s council workers is too late and too low. It means council workers in Scotland being offered less than colleagues in England and Wales and it raises grave concerns about councils’ promise to pay all workers £15 an hour by 2026. This offer comes nowhere close to matching that commitment.

“We do not need any more empty promises and excuses. We need a pay offer that fairly reflects the crucial work being done by our members in local authorities delivering the frontline services that Scotland is built on.

“Inflation might be slowing but bills continue to rise and workers and their families are still being crushed by the cost of living...they deserve better than this.”

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